Fun Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo With Kids

Are you looking for fun ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with children? Check out our list.

  1. Cinco de MayoFact Book

The time required: 15-20 minutes

Materials needed: Copy paper, markers, scissors, and Cinco de Mayo facts.

This is a good place to begin because, well, history. Let’s be honest, many Cinco de Mayo party-goers aren’t really aware of what the holiday represents. I suggest choosing some interesting facts about the holiday, so its meaning isn’t completely lost on your children. Have your learners make a little foldable booklet and then provide a list of facts to fill the pages of their book.

Here’s a cheat sheet of the facts I would suggest, including:

  1. The original date:May 5, 1862.
  2. The celebration start:in Puebla, Mexico.
  3. What happened:Battle where the Mexicans defeated the French army.
  4. Interesting fact:Mexico won the battle, but France won the war.
  5. Something you need to know:Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day.
  6. How is it celebrated in Mexico?:It is commemorated in Puebla with parades and a big celebration.
  7. How is it celebrated in the U.S.?:The globe’s biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration is in Los Angeles, CA.
  8. Sombrero Cookies

The time required: 10 minutes

Materials needed: Sugar cookies, gum drops, plastic bag with frosting inside, sprinkles, nonpareils, and other cookie toppings.

Sombreros are a part of Mexican culture, and just about everyone loves a tasty cookie shaped like a Mexican hat. You’ll need to bring pre-made sugar cookies and frosting for this activity.

Place the frosting in a bag with a hole cut in the corner so that it is easy for children to squeeze out. Learners will place a dot of frosting in the center of the cookie and then place a gumdrop on top, effectively making a sombrero-shaped treat. Learners can then decorate the brim of the hat with frosting and sprinkles.

  1. Talking Tacos

The time required: Approximately 15 minutes

Materials needed: Taco ingredients and labels (shells, meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, avocado, olives, etc.).

Tacos are a big deal in Mexico and the U.S., so you can’t go wrong with creating a taco bar for your Cinco de Mayo celebration. Labeling each taco ingredient is fun to get children to use food vocabulary and work with verbal fluency.

Ask them to list the ingredients they used in their tacos and then have a class discussion based on student ability. You can make this as challenging as you need to by asking learners to describe with adjectives, compare/contrast, and make questions for classmates.

Here are questions you can ask to facilitate a Spanish conversation:

  • ¿Qué pusiste en tu taco? (What did you put in your taco?)
  • ¿Cuántos estudiantes agregaron aguacate en sus tacos? (How many learners put avocado in their tacos?)
  • ¿Cuál es el ingrediente más importante en un taco? (What do you think is the most important ingredient in a taco?)
  • ¿Cuál es tu ingrediente de taco menos favorito? (What is your least favorite taco ingredient?)
  1. Papel Picado

The time required: 10-15 minutes

Materials needed: Tissue paper, white construction paper, scissors, and a string for hanging.

Papel Picado is a Mexican art used in all Mexican celebrations. It is a beautiful decoration made in the same way you would make snowflake cutouts. Basically, learners will fold tissue paper and make different cuts. When they open up their paper, they must have patterns of symmetrical shapes. Use string to hang up your decorations and add a festive flair to your classroom.

  1. Easy Paper Bag Piñatas

The time required: 20-30 minutes

Materials needed: Paper bags, tissue paper, glue, string, scissors, piñata filling.

A celebration isn’t an authentic Mexican celebration without a piñata, but have you ever tried making a real piñata? Unless you’re super crafty, making a piñata the traditional way will drive you to your local party store to buy one already made.

With these easy paper bag piñatas, learners will fill their brown paper bags and adorn them with tissue paper. Ask the children to glue them on fringes and streamers made from different colors of tissue paper. Add some string to hang them up, and you can bust them open in class or allow children to take them home and make the mess there!

  1. Vocabulary Go Fish! 

The time required: 20-25 minutes

Materials needed: Blank note cards, markers, list of vocabulary words relevant to Cinco de Mayo. 

One of the greatest ways to get your learners to acquire new vocabulary is to have them associate the word with an image in their head. Helping them visualize each word with an image that makes sense sets off all kinds of connections in their brains. Having learners make Go Fish! Cards and then participating in the game with them will have the learners learn the vocabulary words.

First, you’ll give the learners a blank note card for every new word you introduce. When introducing the new words, have the learners draw a picture to describe the word on their cards. Make your students write the word at the bottom of each card. Second, have the learners get with small groups and play Go Fish!

Instructions: Pool the learners’ cards and shuffle. Each participant gets four cards, and the rest of the cards are placed in a pile in the middle. Participants take turns asking a specific player for a certain vocabulary card. The first participant asks for a vocabulary card from a second participant. If the second participant has that card, it is given to the first participant. If the second participant doesn’t have that vocabulary card, the first must “go fish!” and take a card from the pile of cards in the middle.

Learners are trying to get as many vocabulary pairs as they can. The competition continues until all hands are empty and there are no cards to draw from. The champion is the participant with the most pairs at the end of the game.

There are lists that are relevant to Cinco de Mayo, but I would go with just a few good words depending on ability.

  1. Picture Books

The time required: 5 minutes

Materials needed: Books!

You can’t go wrong with books. They’re good visual aids for learning and introducing new vocabulary words relevant to your topic. Some options talk about Cinco de Mayo and/or Mexican culture.

  1. Mexican Hat Dance + Mariachi Maracas

The time required: 25 minutes

Materials needed: Mexican Hat Dance song and tutorial, plastic Easter eggs, plastic spoons, rice, tape.

Maracas are Mexican instruments that can be made from dollar store purchases. All you must do is fill plastic Easter eggs with rice. Then cradle the egg in the middle of two spoons so that the curved parts literally ” spoon” the egg.

Attach the spoons to the egg and the handles, and you have Mexican maracas! Once your maracas are done, you can teach learners the Jarabe Tapatío. It can be difficult for some of your less coordinated pupils, but a tutorial can help your learners become masters of the baile.

  1. Mexican Lottery Card Game

The time required: 20 minutes

Materials needed: Bingo boards made with pictures of common Spanish vocabulary words, separate cards for the caller, chips, or tokens.

The Mexican Lottery Card Game is a Mexican game played like Bingo. The bingo cards are comprised of various pictures of things found in everyday Mexican life.

The caller uses a stack of the same pictures and will announce what image to cover with a token. You can have the speaker call out the vocabulary words or explain the pictures and have the participants cover the image they believe is being depicted on their board. The Mexican Lottery Card Game can be made by hand, but if you’re short on time, you can also order the game online.

  1. Puebla Floats from Recycled Materials

The time required: 30-40 minutes

Materials needed: Tissue paper, construction paper, recycled materials, glue, scissors, computers.

This is a good hands-on activity that incorporates authentic learning. Each year for Cinco de Mayo,  Puebla holds a large celebration to commemorate their triumphant battle.

Have the learners research the celebrations held in Puebla and look for examples of floats made for the parades. Then have the learners remake the floats made from recycled materials, like cereal boxes and oatmeal canisters. They must put on a parade showcasing their floats when they’re finished to celebrate!

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