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Cinco De Mayo Activities for Kids

Instructor: Felicia Landry

Felicia has a bachelor's degree in journalism and has been a writer for the past 23 years.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico's surprising defeat of France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. Introduce a bit of Mexican culture to your students on this date with these activities tied to Mexican traditions.

Paper Bag Ponchos

In this activity, students will create their own poncho out of a plain paper bag. Ponchos are a piece of traditional Mexican clothing made with bright colors. They were originally worn to keep warm.

Items Needed:

  • Large paper bags
  • Marker, paints, crayons
  • Paint brushes
  • Scissors

First, cut a circular hole in the top of the paper bag. This should be wide enough for a student's head to fit through. Next, cut out slits on each side for the arms also. Have each student decorate their poncho using crayons, markers or paints. For more decorating ideas, show them photos of actual ponchos.

You can get ideas for additional fun Cinco de Mayo activities with this lesson on Classroom Activities and Vocabulary for Cinco De Mayo.

Making Mexican Music

Music has always been an important part of Mexican culture and includes numerous styles such as the Mariachi bands of the ranchero classification. Students will learn about Mexican instruments like egg shakers, maracas and tambourines through the creation of their own versions.

Rhythm egg:

  • Plastic eggs that snap close
  • Electrical tape
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Scissors
  • Tablespoons
  • Stickers
  • Markers

Have students open their plastic eggs and place one tablespoon of popcorn kernels in them and then snap them closed. Cut pieces of electrical tape and have students wrap the tape around the seal of the eggs to make sure they're securely closed. Students can add more decorations to their rhythm eggs using stickers and markers.

Tambourine:

  • Paper plates
  • Glue
  • Hole puncher
  • Yarn
  • Bells
  • Crayons

Give each student two paper plates and have them glue them to each other. Allow the glue to dry, then use the hole puncher to make holes around the plates for the students. Hand out bells that are attached to yarn and ask students to tie them to the holes around their plates. Students can then decorate their tambourines with crayons.

Making Maracas

Items Needed:

  • Balloons
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Newspaper
  • Rice
  • Unsharpened pencils
  • Masking tape

Begin by mixing flour and water to make a thinly textured papier mache mixture. Next, pour a handful of rice into each balloon before inflating and tying it. Ask students to use their hands to cover the balloon with the paste. Next, have the students clean their hands and then begin placing strips of newspaper to cover their balloons. Make three layers of newspaper strips then let them dry. Using the masking tape, attach a pencil to the balloon to act as a handle so the student can hold and shake the maraca. Decorate the balloon maracas with paint.

Help your students get a better understanding of these types of instruments with this lesson on Types and History of Percussion Instruments. You can also use this video lesson on Latin Music's Rhythm, Dance, Instruments & Characteristics to provide your students with an even more in-depth look at the music of Latin America.

A Taste of Mexican Food: Salsa (Pico de Gallo)

Introduce your students to Mexican food with this recipe for salsa.

Ingredients

  • 3 chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/2 chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Tortilla chips to eat with salsa

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve to your students with chips and enjoy!

Lessons on Cinco de Mayo and Mexican History

You can use these lessons to help your students to get a better understanding of Mexico, its road to independence, and the significance of Cinco de Mayo:

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