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The fifth of May, Cinco de Mayo in Spanish, is a national holiday in Mexico. It commemorates the Mexican victory over the French at the battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862. The victory was an important step for Mexico in her fight for independence. Today in Mexico, and in Mexican-American communities, May 5 brings celebrations, fiestas and parades! Here are some fun ideas for traditional activities and crafts to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at your house!


Folk music and dancing are a distinct part of Mexican culture! You can join in the rhythm with these maracas! You will need: 9-inch paper plate, markers or crayons, handful of dried beans or rice, stapler, five or six strips of colored crepe paper or streamers.

First, decorate the outside (bottom) of the paper plate- use bold designs and bright colors! Fold the plate in half and put a handful of beans or rice inside. Staple it shut. Then staple the colored streamers to the curved side of the plate. Now shake your maraca, and make your own music!


A traditional Mexican serape can make a wonderful addition to your Cinco de Mayo attire! You'll need a large brown grocery bag, scissors, masking tape, and poster paints.

Cut straight up the seam on the back of the bag, branching into a "V" and then a hole in the bottom of the bag (this is the neck hole). Next, cut about a 5-inch wide strip from each side of the bag. This makes the open sides of the serape. Now make fringe around the bottom by either cutting slits all around the edges, or by punching holes along the bottom and threading pieces of yarn through. Now, turn the serape inside out, so that the print in inside, and the side that is showing is plain brown. You may need to secure the shoulder area (the bottom of the bag) with masking tape. Finally, lay your serape out flat, and paint with bright colors!

A Taste of Mexico- Nachos

Mmmmm.... make a wonderful snack to share! You'll need tortilla chips, shredded cheddar or jack cheese, and your choice of optional items including: ground meat, refried beans, olives, tomatoes, jalapenos, etc. Spread the tortilla chips evenly on a baking tray. Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the chips, alternating with your other optional items. Bake in a 350 degree oven for abuot 5-10 minutes (or until cheese is melted). Serve with salsa and sangria (recipe below!)

A Taste of Mexico- Sangria

Those nachos will make you awfully thirsty- so here's a great beverage to serve with your snacks! In a large pitcher mix 4 parts purple grape juice, 2 parts seltzer, and 1 1/2 parts orange juice. Throw in some orange slices and cherries for decoration!

Recommended Cinco de Mayo books:

"Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo" by Dianne M MacMillan
"Fiesta! Cinco de Mayo" by June Behrans
"Let's Go Traveling in Mexico" by Robin Rector Krupp
"Saturday Market" by Patricia Grossman
"Mario's Mayan Journey" by Michelle McCunney

Cinco de Mayo song (sung to the tune of Pop Goes the Weasel)

France invaded Mexico in 1862
The French were strong and powerful
Cinco de Mayo!

The leader of the Mexicans was General Zaragoza,
He was smarter than the French.
Cinco de Mayo!

It was the fifth of May in 1862.
The French lost; the Mexicans won.
Cinco de Mayo!

Mexican Mosaics

The Mexican city of Puebla is recognized for its brightly painted Talavera tiles that decorate the outside of many buildings. You can create your own Mexican-style tile with this project! Draw a sketch on a 5 inch square piece of white construction paper. Then decide which colors you would like to feature on your tile. Tear these colors from tissue paper sheets, or from old magazines. Then arrange and glue the paper pieces to cover the drawing, including the background.

Recommended Cinco de Mayo sites:

Provides brief explanation of Cinco de Mayo, facts about Mexico, Mexican recipes, and craft suggestions and featured at the Web-Holidays site.

This joint project of Houston Public Library and Stafford Middle School students offers bibliography of web-based and traditional resources related to Cinco de Mayo.


This is a wonderful project to make and then "break" to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!!

You will need: A large balloon, lots of newspaper, flour, masking tape, colored tissue, paint (optional), glue, scissors, string, pencil.

Here's what you do: Blow up the balloon & tie tightly. Then tear the newspaper into long, thin strips (about 1 inch wide and at least 12 inches long). You'll need lots of strips! In a large bowl, mix 5 cups of flour with water- adding the water slowly until it is the consistency of pancake batter. Dip the newspaper strips in the flour and water mixture, wetting them completely. Remove any excess moisture from the strips by running them through your fingers, and then drape them over the balloon. Continue overlapping strips until the balloon is completely covered. Add more and more layers of newspaper until you have applied 5 -10 layers.

To decorate your pinata, let it dry completely, then either paint it, or cover it with colored tissue paper attached with craft glue. Overlap the tissue like roof shingles.

To fill the pinata, cut a small flap in the top, bend it back carefully and drop in small wrapped candies or goodies. When the pinata is full, fold the flap back in to place.

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