Introduce your kids to an exciting and empowering part of history with these fun Cinco de Mayo activities!
What is Cinco de Mayo?
Celebrated on the May 5, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the triumph of a small Mexican army over French forces in 1862. The victory at the “Batalla de Puebla” (Battle of Puebla) proved to the world that the Mexican people could not be conquered. The holiday is celebrated each year as a reminder that patriotism, courage, and inner strength can overcome any challenges.
Like Saint Patrick’s Day and Chinese New Year celebrations, Cinco de Mayo activities are a wonderful way to expose children to other cultures and traditions. The brightly colored costumes, street music and festival-inspired foods are easy to re-create at home. Whether you’re having a party, a play date, or just hanging out with your kids at home, give these Cinco de Mayo activities a try!
When you’re a kid, any excuse for a party and decorations is a good one! Break out the most colorful (unbreakable) tableware you have and add these decorations:
Flags: With string and a brightly colored plastic tablecloth, you can make festive decorations! Measure out 7′ of string. Cut a triangle 8″ x8″ x4″ out of cardboard. Use this triangle as a template and cut out as many triangles as you can from the plastic tablecloth. Attach the triangles to the string by folding the long edge over the string and stapling it along the string. String your flags from one end of a room to another and hang them from the ceiling, or hang them outside for an outdoor celebration.
Paper Flowers: Tissue paper flowers make lovely table centerpieces or great hair accessories. To make, gather 4 pieces of any color tissue paper. Take the stack of papers and fold them in half, then fold back and forth to make a fan shape. Wrap a long chenille pipe cleaner around the bottom of the folded edge, about ¼” from the bottom, to form the stem. Gently tug each layer of paper to separate it and form the petals. Make a whole bouquet and display them on your table in a can, jar or decorated water bottle.
Prepare a feast
Tacos, quesadillas, nachos, and guacamole are fun treats kids and adults love. Keep things easy with a taco bar, featuring soft and hard taco shells, 10″ tortillas for burritos, hot and mild salsas, chicken, beef, and pork fillings, refried beans, avocado slices, shredded cheese, sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes.
Roasted corn on the cob makes an easy side dish. Serve it with spray margarine and a choice of salt, hot sauce, cotija cheese, or paprika to sprinkle on top.
Try this easy black bean and corn salsa recipe:
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup frozen corn niblets
- 2 medium tomatillos or tomatoes, diced
- ½ cup diced onions (can be frozen)
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 tbsp chili powder (more to taste)
- ¼ tsp dried cilantro (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together. Let sit for at least 1 hour before serving.
For dessert, cut large tortillas into eighths, butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake in toaster oven until crispy. Serve with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Sombreros and vests, skirts that twirl, and flowers behind the ear make quite the impression when paired with traditional Mexican music and decorations.
Start a Mariachi Band
Mariachi bands traditionally consist of trumpets, violins, and guitars, but any music-making instrument is welcome in a home-band! Try making your own instruments:
- Trumpet: Decorate paper towel and toilet tissue rolls and toot away!
- Guitar: Decorate a tissue box, wrap 6 rubber bands of different sizes around it and strum at the open end.
- Maracas: Fill plastic Easter eggs, a plastic container, or a coffee can with dried beans, rice, or crayons and shake.
Play Musical Chairs and Freeze Dance
These party classics become instant themed games when set to Mariachi music or Spanish songs.
Have a parade
Decorate bikes, scooters, tricycles, wagons and even pets with streamers, silk flowers and balloons. Put a portable radio or MP3player with speakers in the lead vehicle and blast some fun tunes as you circle the yard.
Create clay pots with quick-drying clay. Roll the clay into a long rope, then, beginning at the bottom, coil the rope around and then up to create a pot. Use colorful clay, or use a basic color and paint it when it’s dry. It makes a great take-home party favor!
Cinco De Mayo Fun Facts
Because of its message, Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day. Mexico actually declared independence from Spain on September 16, 1810.
The holiday is most celebrated in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas, and there’s a lot of history behind that. Texas was annexed to the United States in 1845, which led to the Mexican-American war. The other three states were annexed from Mexico in 1848 following the U.S. victory in that war. Despite the war, all of these states continue to have close ties to the people and culture of Mexico.
The town of Puebla, the site of the battle, has the most extravagant and colorful celebration in Mexico, with a reenactment of the battle and elaborate parade floats like the one pictured here, in addition to the festivities.
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