Cinco de Mayo: Origin, Activities, & Books for Children

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Although many people have this misconception, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day which is in September.  Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over the French army at the Battle of Pueblo on May 5, 1862.  It is a significant victory because the French had not been defeated for almost 50 years and the Mexicans were outnumbered almost two-to-one, so the battle was not in favor of the Mexican army.  Also, it is a significant battle because it was the last time a foreign country invaded the Americas.

ACTIVITIES:

  • Have an activity center with Mexican dresses, pinatas, and other items.  Place books about Cinco de Mayo in the center.
  • Have a pinata party where the children take turns trying to break the pinata and release all the candy.  Pinatas can be bought at some Mexican restaurants such as Pulidos or at a party supply store.
  • Make a pinata with paper mache.
  • Let kids make bean burritos.  Have soft flour tortillas already warmed.  Mix water with a can of refried beans to make an easily spread consistency.  Let kids spread refried beans on their tortilla, sprinkle with shredded cheese, and roll up.  Enjoy eating!
  • Have kids learn how to count to ten in Spanish.  Play Spanish Bingo by called out numbers in Spanish and having numbers 1-10 on Bingo cards.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS:

  • Cinco de Mayo by Kate Torpie.  Full color photographs, history & customs, directions for making a pinata, and a recipe.
  • Cinco de Mayo:  Celebrating the Traditions of Mexico by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith.  Great book with nice, large illustrations.  Book explains history, traditional dances, dress, and food of this celebration.
  • Cinco de Mayo (Holidays and Festivals) by Alice K. Flanagan.  Covers the history, symbols, and customs of the holiday.  Beautiful illustrations, interesting facts, and additional resources are included in this book.
  • Cinco de Mayo (Read About Holidays) by Mary Dodson Wade and Nanci R. Vargus.  Scholastic.
  • Cinco de Mayo:  Yesterday and Today by Maria Christina Urrutia.  Beautiful illustrations.  Historical references.