Around this time of year, teachers are and parents are looking for kid-friendly cinco de mayo activities. The holiday known as Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with much more fervor in the US than in Mexico. While it does commemorate an important day in Mexico’s history—the Mexican army’s defeat of French troops at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862—it has come to be a reason to celebrate Mexican (and Latin America) culture more broadly in the United States. It could be a reason to make tacos or swing at a piñata, but we’ve made it easy for you to go a little deeper and engage your students or kids with more meaningful cinco de mayo activities.
1. Make a Mexico Minibook
This Mexico Minibook goes beyond stereotypes and offers kids a much wider view of life in Mexico. Instead of the ever-present sombrero and burro scene, it highlights Mexico’s rich history and cosmopolitan capital city, and introduces kids to some of its foods, languages, and geographical features. This is one of my favorite cinco de mayo activities for kids! The minibook is available in both the English and Spanish languages.
2. Watch Animated Shorts in Mexico’s Indigenous Languages
68 Tongues, 68 Hearts is an animated project aimed at preserving and sharing the indigenous languages of Mexico. This project has Spanish-language subtitled film on Vimeo, and English-language subtitled films on their Youtube channel, free for anyone to watch. Learn more about the project on Global Voices.
3. Read about Frida Kahlo and Draw a Self-Portrait
Kids can learn about the beloved Mexican artist Frida Kahlo through this activity packet.
With an informational text, comprehension questions, a coloring sheet of one of the artist’s paintings, and a self-portrait activity, this Story of Frida Kahlo and Activities packet is ready to go fits in well with Cinco de Mayo activities for kids. The self-portrait activity leads the students through all of the symbolism in Frida’s paintings, discussing emotions, settings, and why she has chosen certain objects. Students dive deep into her artwork and attempt to create a self-portrait that tells their own story. When they are finished, the class set of self-portraits are absolutely stunning on a bulletin board.
4. Drink Fresh Mexican Chia Lemonade!
Chia lemonade is a delicious and refreshing drink enjoyed in Mexico. Chias are actually tiny seeds from Mexico and the southwest US that were used by the Aztecs and Mayans since 1000 BC. Many of these ancient grains have been recently discovered to be super-foods, packed with antioxidants and other health benefits. Chia seeds are filled with protein, fiber and omega-3! In Mexico, people enjoy chia seeds in aguas frescas (such as lemonade) especially for healthy digestion, as a detox agent, and to stabilize blood sugar. See the recipe and more photos in action here!
5. Enjoy some REAL Mexican Tacos: Cochinita Pibil Recipe
Cochinita Pibil is an extremely easy recipe, with so few ingredients you’ll think I’ve forgotten something–and yet your kids will LOVE it. Thank you Norma (my mother-in-law) for allowing us to share your recipe with our readers! Before the details, let me clarify a couple of points about Mexican tacos:
- there are no hard shelled tacos (except imported ones at Walmart)
- tacos do not need cheese, olives, green onions, or sour cream
- ground beef is not normally used in tacos; when prepared as picadillo (with raisins, tomatoes, almonds, olives, hard boiled egg, etc), it is eaten with rice or stuffed in poblano chile peppers.
6. Explore the Geography of Mexico Through Landforms
This is the Mexico Geography packet your kids will love! First, teachers introduce kids to the definitions of various landforms. Then, teachers show students some scenes of Mexico through gorgeous photographs in a power point activity. Students listen to the teacher script and view the photographs to learn about Mexico’s real, famous landforms. Then, students read clues about Mexico geography, and use their map skills (north, south, east, west) to cut out and paste landform pictures onto a map of Mexico. Completely interactive and ready to go! Check it out now >
7. Learn the History of the Mexican Flag
This tried and true resource is an excellent activity for a sub plan, a regular class lesson, or home use. Kids read the story of the Mexican flag, then answer comprehension questions and color in the flag. There’s two versions of the coloring sheets: one version with the central emblem, and one without, so students can see if they can draw it themselves! See it now.
8. Watch a Folkloric Dance from Jalisco, Mexico
My daughters and their friends are in a folkloric dance group called “Las Flores Latinas.” If you have the opportunity to see some dances for 5 de mayo, cities and towns often showcase them for the public. If not, you can watch our video, or look for more videos of the colorful dances from around Mexico- each region has their own music, style, and dress that is unique. This particular dance is from Jalisco, in the north of Mexico.