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May 3, 2012 Cinco de Mayo: A Fiesta of Fun! By Jennifer Solis and Jenifer Boatwright
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Once testing is over, our students are looking for FUN . . . no more test prep or strategy practice! These kiddos deserve a break. What better way to take that break than to get ready for a FIESTA? Our school has a large population of children whose families migrated from Mexico or who have family that currently live there, so this holiday allows us to celebrate that heritage as well as the end of testing.



    Yes, even our fun activities come with a little vocabulary lesson.  We start out by giving a brief explanation of what Cinco de Mayo stands for in Mexico.  Then, for a change, we have our EL students teach the vocabulary words to the rest of the class using vocabulary cards we print ahead of time.


    They taught them how to pronounce the words and even came up with their own motions to describe the words.  This was a blast.  Our EL students really took ownership of this lesson. 


    Preparing for the Feast

    No fiesta is complete without a great menu. You can ask students to bring in recipes for traditional Mexican meals, or you can get plenty of recipes online.  Possible dishes include Spanish rice, beans, salsa, guacamole, cheese enchiladas, and carne asada.

    We make a copy of each recipe for each student. They cut them out and paste them onto pieces of construction paper. Then we hole punch them, and put them on a ring. Now each student has what he or she needs to help his or her family prepare a delicious meal.

    What are they going to put that wonderful meal on? Cinco de Mayo place mats, of course. We give each child two sheets of 9" x 12" construction paper. We do them in the colors of Mexico’s flag: red, green, and white.  But you can choose to use bright colors to represent the piñata. 


    To make the place mat, cut one-inch-wide slits into one of the pieces of paper, leaving a one-inch margin around the outside.  Cut the other paper into one-inch strips.  Weave the strips of paper into the piece of paper with the slits, making a checkered pattern.


    Mexico Flags

    To complete this activity, we use the "Flag of Mexico" template available at Scholastic Printables. Each student is given the template and a variety of dried beans. We use red kidney, pinto, lentil, and white navy beans. Students glue the beans onto the flag. We love this activity because they get to use something other than crayons and markers to create a beautiful decoration. 


    Jumping Beans

    This is a super fun and energetic activity to get your students up and moving. It's just like “Freeze Dance,” but they jump instead of dance. Play some Mexican music and have the students jump around the room. When you stop the music, they freeze! 

    The students you see in the picture are actually some 4th grade boys that stay for tutoring after school. They needed a little break too!


    Other Craft Ideas

    You can also make maracas or piñatas. What other things are you making with your students?  We would love to hear more ideas for a Cinco de Mayo or post-exam party.


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Susan Cheyney