Fiesta Time: Celebrating Cinco de Mayo (a Unit Study)

Cinco de Mayo means the 5th of May in English. It is not Mexico’s Independence Day. This is a time when individuals living in Mexico and the Unites States celebrate and commemorate the victory the Mexican army had over French soldiers at the 1862 Battle of Puebla in Puebla, Mexico. People celebrate the Mexican-American culture and heritage with parties, dancing, parades, music, and delicious food. I will sharing several activities that you could possibly do to celebrate and recognize Cinco de Mayo with your children.

Geography and Social Studies

Language and Culture 

Learn about Mexican traditions and culture in reference books and through online research. Spanish is the primary language spoken in Mexico. Teach your children words in Spanish including colors, numbers, months, foods, instruments, music genres, and more.

Map and Globe Work 

Find Mexico and its capital on the globe and on a map of North America. Apples 4 the Teacher and DLTK both have a map of Mexico coloring page. Children can also paint Mexico on a map. Children can complete USA or World puzzles in order to discuss the location of Mexico in relation to their state.

Where’s Mexico?

Flag Research and Comparisons

Take a look at Mexico’s flag. What colors do you see? What do the colors represent? Older children can research the information. The flag colors represent hope (green), purity and faith (white), and blood shed (red). What symbols are displayed? Research the Aztec legend about the flag symbols and how Mexico City was founded. Children can also compare and contrast their flag post-it notes using a hula hoop Venn diagram or they can create a painter’s tape t-chart. Furthermore, a descriptive paragraph can be written.

Flag Art

Make a Tissue Paper Mexican Flag. We used the blank flag template from Activity VillageThe flag template was cut and pasted to a piece of sturdy cardboard. Alyssa scrunched up cut pieces of red, green, and white tissue paper and dipped them in glue to attach to the template. She twisted black pipe cleaners over the top of the 10” dowel stick flag handle. Then, I hot glued a yellow pom pom at the top of the flag post. You could create the flag using painted lima beans, flattened pieces of tissue paper, feathers, fingerprints, construction paper, pom poms, daubers, paint, dyed rice, or dyed pasta.

 

Science

Plant and observe avocado plants, corn seeds, and chili pepper growth over time. Inhabitat has great photographic directions for avocado plants. This activity will take time before noticeable growth is seen.

Plan and a Fiesta (Party)

Making Invitations

A “real life” writing assignment could include making and sending invitations to friends for a fiesta. The writing assignment can be done whether you throw a party or not. However, children can plan the menu, discussing the budget and expenses, and participate in the cooking process if you decide to throw a party.

Cook Together

Tortillas

Salsa

Tamales

Spanish Rice

Beans

Cookie Pinatas

Guacamole

Enchiladas

Hubby’s Delicious and Quick Enchiladas
Our Fiesta Meal

Arts and Crafts

Pinata

Obviously, you can always purchase a donkey or “burro” pinata to break if you have the extra cash, but I believe it is more fun to actually make one. For our family, it is all about the artistic process rather than the final product. We’ve made many papier mache crafts in the past, however this time I wanted to try something different. We made a homemade Paper Bag Pinata.

Add streamers to bottom and yarn to hang

Mexican Papel Picados

Alyssa made several red, white, and green tissue paper papel picados after seeing them in several books. DLTK has papel picado directions.

Make Tissue Paper Flowers

The national flower for Mexico is the Dahlia. There’s a tissue paper Dahlia tutorial on Martha Stewart’s website. First Palette has an easy tissue paper flower tutorial.

Sombrero Hats

Your children will also love creating Mexican Sombrero Hats. My daughter and I made paper plate and cup sombrero hats. Kaboose is the websit that inspired our creations.

Music, Movement, and Authentic
Clothing

Music and Dance

Listen to the Best Mariachi Music. Children can also participate in a traditional hat dance using a sombrero. Here is the El Jarabe Tapatio – The Mexican Hat Dance Music and a link to a Mexican Hat Dance performance.

 

 

Sewing or Patterned Paper Clothing

Find and show authentic clothing worn during this celebration. Make costumes or clothing if your children are learning how to sew. If not, you can always create patterned paper sombreros as seen on Chalk Talk. Other items such as ponchos, serapes, ruffled dresses, and more can be created with the supplies you have on hand. Be creative! 

Make Maracas

Make and paint your own musical instruments using the Mexican flag colors. I found a wonderful step-by-step tutorial at Playing it Cooley which describes how to make plastic egg maracas. I used pencils for the handle instead of skewers. We filled our maracas with dried pinto beans and rice. Supervise small children.

 

 

Books to Read

Informative

A Look at Mexico by Helen Frost

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo: Fiesta Time! by Sandi Hill

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Mexican Hat Dance by Alma F. Ada & F. Isabel Campoy

Fiesta! by June Behrens

Cinco de Mayo: Celebrating the Traditions of Mexico by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo by Carolyn Otto

Celebrate! It’s Cinco de Mayo by Janice Levy

Cinco de Mayo (Rookie Read About Holidays) by Mary Dodson Wade

Tortillas and Tamales

The Tortilla Factory by Gary Paulsen

Magda’s Tortillas by Becky Chavarria-Chairez

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

The Three Little Tamales by Eric A. Kimmel

Party Planning/Days of the Week

Manana Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul (Version of Little Read Hen)

Pinatas

The Pinata by Bonnie Hayslip

The Pinata Maker/El Pinatero by George Ancona

Other Picture Books

Cinco de Mouse-O! by Judy Cox

Marco’s Cinco de Mayo by Lisa Bullard

For math fun, check out Cinco de Mayo math on Tracey’s blog.

traceymastersavatar (2)

Tracey lives in the quiet Texas Hill Country area with her hard-working husband Jeff and her five-year-old daughter. She taught second grade in a public school for three years. After the birth of Alyssa, she felt a strong calling to homeschool. She’s a Christian mom that enjoys reading, scrapbooking, cooking, baking, eating lots of chocolate, exercising, and teaching. Her eclectic homeschool style is influenced by Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, and Classical approaches. She enjoys teaching Math, Language Arts, and Spanish. You can find Tracey blogging at A Learning Journey and you can follow her Cinco de Mayo Pinterest boards as well.

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