School Activities for Cinco de Mayo

Overview

Cinco de Mayo, or the Fifth of May, is the day that the country of Mexico celebrates its independence. This is a significant holiday for Mexican citizens and Mexican-Americans, and can also be a fun day to have a party at school. With a few simple ideas, you can plan a Cinco de Mayo celebration that everyone at your school is sure to enjoy.

Games and Fun

Teach the children to do the Mexican Hat Dance. For this activity, you need to place a sombrero on the floor and have the children form a large circle around it. When the music begins, they should all dance by moving in a clockwise motion around the hat. Then you can call out individual children's names, one at a time. When a child's name is called, he needs to move to the center of the circle and perform a solo dance around the sombrero, then return to the edge and rejoin his classmates. Continue this until all children have had a chance to participate in the dance. No Cinco de Mayo celebration would be complete without a piñata. Your students may even be able to make one in their art classes leading up to the event, using papier-mache techniques. If this isn't an option, you can purchase a piñata at the store for your party. Traditional shapes include stars or donkeys. Fill your piñata with candies and small toys, and let children take turns swatting at it with a stick while wearing a blindfold. When the piñata breaks, everyone gets a share of the goodies.

Learning Time

Teach the children some Spanish words during your celebration of this event. You may choose to teach them how to count to 10, how to say their colors or how to sing a song in Spanish. This way the kids can learn about the Spanish language and culture at the same time. To let the kids know more about this important holiday, play "Benito Juarez Says." This game, from kaboose.com, is a new spin on "Simon Says." (See References.) Teach the kids about Benito Juarez: He was a Zapotec Indian who rose up out of poverty to become the president of Mexico and defeat the French who were occupying his country. Play "Simon Says," but use Benito Juarez's name instead of Simon's.

Crafts and Snacks

Have children make paper flowers in the colors of the Mexican flag: red, white and green. They can fold tissue paper and wrap it around chenille stems to make a colorful bouquet of paper flowers to take home to their parents. For snacks, serve traditional Mexican dishes such as chips and salsa or tacos. Encourage young children to sample something unfamiliar; they'll never know what new favorite they may end up discovering.

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About this Author

Jessica Cook has been writing since high school when she wrote for TeenGrrl.com and GirlZone.com. During college, she wrote for her university's e-zine, department newsletter, and an education journal. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Ohio Northern University, a Master of Arts in Teaching from Grand Canyon University, and an Educational Specialist's degree in curriculum and instruction from Liberty University.

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