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Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is a festive holiday filled with Mexican traditions. It was started to celebrate a battle won by the smaller Mexican army against a better-equipped French army. With these Cinco de Mayo preschool activities and facts, you will be able to round out the lesson with facts about the holiday, play some fun games and practice some simple Spanish.
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What Is This Holiday?
1.Write the words Cinco de Mayo (sink-oh-day-my-oh) on the board as you are saying the phrase to your students. From children’s television programs, many of the students already know how to count in Spanish. Count with them to cinco while you hold up the same amount of fingers: uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco. Cinco means five! Now look at the calendar month of May. Ask if they notice that the word May looks like Mayo. Mayo (my-oh) is the Spanish word for May. De means of. Literally translated, the holiday is “5 of May."
2. Show the children a map of North America. Show them the United States and where they live. Then show them Mexico. If you have a world map or globe, you can also include France when pointing out countries.
- Mexico had a battle against France. What is a battle?
- The French soldiers came to Mexico to fight. They thought the Mexicans owed them money.
- The French had more soldiers and more guns than the Mexican army.
- They fought on a hill. The Mexican army fought very hard and won the battle.
- The people of Mexico were very happy and proud so they have a party every year to celebrate.
3. Mexican traditions:
- They sometimes decorate with paper lanterns and flowers.
- They use bright colors.
- They have piñatas for the children to break. What is a piñata? (pene-yah-tah)
- They have good food like tacos, fajitas, flan, nachos, and salsa.
- They love to dance and sing.
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Cinco de Mayo Preschool Games
Hot and Cold
Remember the hot and cold game? You hide an object when a student is out of the room. Then, when the child returns, the others give him/her clues as to where the item is by saying, “Hot, HOT, HOT!" as the child gets closer to the hidden object and “cold, COLD, COLD!" when he/she is farther away from the object. This is the same game except you play it in Spanish: Calor (Cah-lore) is hot and fria (free-ah) is cold!
Positive affirmations for the winner: Bueno (boo-ay-no) Bien (bee-en).
Find That Color
Practice color words using a second language. If you have color words displayed somewhere in your classroom, add the Spanish word beneath it. Work on just a few at a time and interchange the words while you are discussing the color of something. “The apple is rojo." or “The apple is red." Then play a game: Say a color and ask the children to scurry around the room and find something that is the color that you said. They should stand by the item and point to it or hold it up. You may call out the color, “Azul." The children may find paper, a book, shoes, a flower or whatever item is blue. Then call out another color.
- azul (ah-zuel)
- rojo (row-hoe)
- blanco (blonc-oh)
- amarillo (ah-mah-REE-yo)
- verde (vair-day *the v may sound like a soft b)
Pass the Pepper
Use a plastic pepper that you can buy in a craft store. Arrange students on the floor in a circle. One player goes somewhere else in the room or just outside the door to hide his/her eyes. Pass the pepper quickly (It’s HOT!) around the circle until you say stop. The student holding the pepper hides it in his/her hands or under a leg. The “it" student gets three guesses to figure out who has the pepper.
Snatch the Sombrero
You will need a small sombrero (hat) for this game. Play this game in a large area, such as the playground, a grassy area or the gym. Divide the class into two lines far apart but facing each other. Verbally give each student on one side numbers in Spanish. Give each student on the other side the same numbers. Put the sombrero in the center between the two lines of students. Call out a number in Spanish. Whichever student (there should be one student from each team) has that number, they should run and grab the hat and return to the team before being tagged. If your students have trouble remembering their numbers, hand them each a card with his/her number on it. Say the number in Spanish and then in English if necessary.
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You can provide so many activities for your students surrounding the holiday of Cinco de Mayo. You can introduce some map skills, learn about other cultures and traditions, practice following directions by playing games related to the holiday and learn some simple Spanish vocabulary. Using Cinco de Mayo preschool activities and facts will help you accomplish all these things and your students will have fun at the same time!
- Image: Wikimedia Commons: Cinco de Mayo dancers in Washington DC