Cinco de Mayo provides a great opportunity to celebrate everything Mexico. Sometimes mistakenly described as the Mexican Independence holiday, Cinco de Mayo started as a Chicano (Mexican-American) celebration to honor Mexico’s victory over France in 1862 in a small town called Puebla. Although it is celebrated in Puebla, it is far more popular in this country. For many, it is a great opportunity to party, and enjoy some delicious food.
While that’s always fun, Cinco do Mayo is a great opportunity to teach kids about the significant contributions Mexican-Americans have made to the U.S. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout U.S./American English so kids are used to seeing and hearing them. Capitalize on that by using songs or games to teach them numbers or colors in Spanish. Label decorations or foods in Spanish. Greet them at the door with a cheery “Hola!” Ask them to identify foods with Spanish names.
Fun and easy to make Cinco de Mayo crafts
A traditional Mexican craft that you may be familiar with is Papel Picado (ever cut out a snowflake or heart in elementary school?). Translated as perforated or “pecked” paper, it makes beautiful tissue paper flowers that can be used in a variety of celebrations (I was asked to make them for a baby shower but had no idea of the origin). This is a particularly versatile project because you only need paper that folds well and is easy to cut and scissors. From there, imagination takes over because the designs are endless.
What’s a Cinco de Mayo celebration without maracas? Typically made from gourds, Maracas are great musical instruments (and make more noise than most parents want to hear at one time, but hey – it’s a party!) Making maracas can be as complicated or, my favorite, as simple to make as you want. Think about it – it’s something relatively structured with stuff inside that will make noise when you shake it. Cardboard, tape, and beans. Empty food containers with small pebbles. Recycled boxes with dry macaroni. You get the idea. (Don’t forget the earplugs. Or the Ibuprofen.)
Don’t forget food!
The food part of the party can be a great way for kids to try something that they may not usually eat. Most kids will recognize tacos or nachos but a Cinco de Mayo party is a great (sneaky) way to introduce them to some new healthy food. Avocado is versatile and full of nutrients. It’s great on its own, layered in a sandwich or used as a dip with also healthy tomatoes.
Dessert please! Used in many Latin American cultures in addition to Mexico, these treats work well for Cinco de Mayo. Anyone who’s been to a Mexican chain restaurant has seen Churros or Fried Ice Cream on the menu. But, if you’ve never tried Flan or Tres Leches, welcome to creamy decadence! If you want to keep it simple – Mango ice is a simple frozen treat that will cool down the spiciest Cinco de Mayo meal. Jugo de Sandía (Watermelon juice) was one of my favorite thirst quenchers in Mexico. Watermelon, ice and sugar to taste – it’s pretty to look at and delicioso!
¡Viva la fiesta!