15 Fun Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo With Your Kids
Are you seeking entertaining activities that are also educational?
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with fun adventures your whole family will enjoy!
In this article I’ll share 15 fun and festive activities you and your family can do to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
Why Celebrate Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo is also called “El Día de la Batalla de Puebla” (The Day of the Battle of Puebla). Although it’s often confused as Mexico’s Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s unlikely victory over France on May 5, 1862, near Puebla, Mexico during the Franco-Mexican War.
Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in Mexico. However, cities across the United States—especially those with a large Mexican-American population—go all-out to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage on May 5.
It’s a great opportunity to learn about and experience some Mexican culture with your kids, wherever you are.
Cinco de Mayo festivities in the U.S. and Mexico include street fairs, mariachi music, parades and more.
This video from WatchMojo gives you a peek at Cinco de Mayo’s history and how it’s celebrated.
What better way to learn about Mexico’s rich culture and traditions than with a family Cinco de Mayo celebration? Most of the activities in this article are free or low-cost, and can be enjoyed by kids of all ages.
Plan your Cinco de Mayo adventure today!
#1: Discover Fun Facts
Before you plan your fiesta (party), learn some new and interesting things about Mexico.
You can also do this research online. Do an Internet search with your kids and learn “cinco” (five) things about Mexico.
To pique your family’s interest, here are a few facts about Mexico:
- Millions of monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico every year from the US and Canada.
- The red poinsettia plant originated in Mexico.
- Each year, thousands of gray whales migrate 6000 miles from the cold waters off Alaska to the warm waters off Baja California, Mexico, to breed.
- Chichén-Itza is one of the 7 wonders of the modern world.
- April 30 is “Día del Niño” (Children’s Day) in Mexico. Schools and families honor children on this day with special activities and gifts.
You can look for fun Mexican facts as a family. Or else pair up, do research in teams and then share what you’ve learned with each other.
#2: Expand Your Vocabulary
Learn a few words or phrases in Spanish, Mexico’s official language.
When you’re ready for more of a challenge, learn to count backwards in Spanish with the Count in this video.
Check out this Sesame Street song: Counting backwards in Spanish with the Count.
Bonus Activity: If you and your family enjoy learning Spanish, add a few new words to your vocabulary every week. The Internet makes it really easy to do this. You can even make it a family game. Each member searches for and learns a new word every week, and shares it with the family. The others then have to guess the meaning.
#3: Play Lotería
“Lotería,” which means lottery in Spanish, is a fun Mexican game that’s similar to Bingo.
The Lotería game set includes a deck of 54 cards with colorful images and 10 boards with a random pattern of 16 images.
A rule is established and an announcer is selected before the game begins. To make the game more fun, after selecting a card from the deck, the announcer may use riddles, humorous sayings or silly voices to provide a hint of the image before showing the card to the players.
Typically, players use beans to mark their board. The first player to complete the rule established must shout “Lotería!” To up the ante, players can play for money, using a penny or nickel for each game.
Popular rules include:
- Horizontal line
- Diagonal line
- 4 inside
- 4 corners
- 4 inside and 4 corners
- Full board
#4: Reenact the Battle of Puebla
The Mexican army’s victory over the French forces was considered unlikely because the well-armed French army of 8000 significantly outnumbered the 4500 poorly equipped Mexican soldiers.
Everyone loves a story of the underdog beating out the larger force.
Have fun with this staggering statistic, as you reenact the Battle of Puebla with toy soldiers from the dollar store.
#5: Decorate a Mexican Flag
Mexico’s flag is made up three vertical stripes. The left green stripe stand for hope, the middle white stripe represents purity and the right red stripe represents the blood of the Mexican people. The central emblem is the Aztec pictogram for Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), the center of their empire.
According to a beautiful legend, the gods advised the Aztecs to establish their city when they saw an eagle perched on a prickly pear devouring a serpent. They saw this mythical eagle on a marshy lake that is now the Zócalo (main plaza) in Mexico City.
Download a Mexican flag template. You can print it on cardstock or glue it onto heavy paper, and color it in.
#6: Make and Shake Maracas
You can make maracas in three easy steps.
- Have your kids place their fillings inside the container. Be sure to have them test their maracas to see how different fillings and amounts produce different sounds.
- Wrap 2-3 layers of tape around the bottle’s neck.
- Paint the maracas.
Be sure to make a set for yourself.
Once the paint is dry, you’re ready to make some noise!
#7: Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay, Canta (Sing)…
“Cielito Lindo” is a popular Mexican song commonly played by mariachi bands. However, Mexican music is more than mariachi. In fact, the music of Mexico is as diverse as the country. It has many different influences, genres and styles, including Ballad, Cumbia, Son, Ranchera, Classical and Rock.
Sing along with the music. Don’t forget to use your maracas!
#8: Dance, Dance, Dance!
If your kids like to dance, play Mexican music and dance!
Do you have a sombrero (hat) at hand? Create your own version of the popular Mexican Hat Dance.
#9: Discover Why Mexico Is a Wonderland
Mexico is rich in culture and also in natural wealth. It is considered a mega-diverse country and is among the top five countries in the world in terms of its number of plants, animals and ecosystems.
Take a virtual visit to Mexico in this video from JCVdude.
Learn about the biodiversity and ecosystems in Mexico.
#10: Plan a Field Trip to the Grocery Store
Mexican markets have been growing in popularity throughout the U.S. If you happen to have one nearby, gather the family and take a field trip.
Mexican grocery stores typically have a large selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, traditional items and an array of fun Mexican drinks and treats. Many also include a panadería (bakery) where you can purchase warm pan dulce (sweet bread), and a tortillería where you can get freshly made tortillas.
If you don’t have a Mexican grocery in your area, visit your local grocery store and ask if they have an ethnic/international aisle. Many grocery store chains have specific aisles dedicated to foods from other countries.
While you’re at the Mexican grocery store or the ethnic aisle, be sure to pick up some items to enjoy at home.
#11: Cook a Mexican Meal
What comes to mind when you think of Mexican food? Tacos? Enchiladas?
A trip through the various Mexican states would show you that Mexican cuisine is as diverse as the country itself. It varies significantly depending on the region.
For example, the northern part of Mexico is known for its meat specialties, including beef and goat meat. The southern region has a unique cuisine that’s heavily influenced by its Mayan history and its proximity to the Caribbean. The western states, on the other hand, are known for cheese, tequila and amazing seafood.
Corn, however, is a staple found throughout Mexico. Prepare a meal using this key ingredient; there are countless options, including corn tortilla quesadillas, enchiladas and tostadas.
You only need a handful of ingredients to make the cookies. Plus, it’s easy enough that older kids can follow the recipe and make it mostly on their own, or with light supervision while you make some of other dishes.
Cook a meal as a family, and enjoy it together. You’ll see that the preparation is more than half the fun!
#12: Prepare Salsa
Did you know that Mexico is credited for introducing corn and chilies to the world? Yum!
If your family enjoys spicy food, make salsa to go with your family meal.
Can’t handle spicy? Try this kid-friendly salsa recipe and serve it with a bowl of corn chips.
#13: Make Paletas
Paletas are frozen popsicles typically sold in Mexico by street vendors with pushcarts.
Traditional paletas are made with fresh fruit and come in a wide assortment of flavors, including coconut, mango, strawberry, corn, rice and hibiscus.
Making paletas is a fun and easy activity to do with kids. The toughest part is deciding which flavor to make.
To make paletas, decide what fruit to use and place it in a blender.
Add juice and sweetener, if you’d like.
Blend, taste and add more juice, fruit or sweetener. Depending on your fruit selection, you may even want to add a few teaspoons of lemon juice.
Once you have the right taste, fill your molds and add popsicle sticks. Note: If you use paper cups, wait until the mixture begins to freeze before adding the sticks (just set a timer for 30-40 minutes, and then add the sticks).
Be adventurous with your fruit and juice combinations.
For tropical paletas, combine pineapple, mango and banana with coconut water or milk.
Do you prefer a creamier option? Make strawberry-cream paletas. Blend rinsed, hulled strawberries with vanilla- or strawberry-flavored yogurt, 2-3 tablespoons of honey and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
For another variation, try layered paletas.
Whatever you make, they’re sure to taste delicious!
#14: Assemble a Papel Picado Banner
Papel picado (perforated paper) is a traditional Mexican folk art. It’s a decorative craft that involves cutting out intricate patterns on colorful tissue paper.
The patterns are traditionally cut using a guide and a small chisel. (Note: we’ll use scissors for our version.) The designs are then glued onto a string to assemble banners, which are used as decorations for important festivities and holidays, such the Day of the Dead.
- Fold the tissue paper horizontally. Then fold it over again. Make a small fold over on one side, so you are sure to leave space for the string.
- Use scissors to cut shapes in the paper. (It’s kind of like cutting paper snowflakes.) Once you have cut enough little patterns, unfold the paper.
- Take the uncut end and fold it over the string. Glue it in place.
- Repeat this process for each sheet of tissue paper.
Watch the video below for more detailed instructions.
Watch this video from Mariasol Danziger to learn how to make papel picado.
If you have extra tissue paper and time, make paper flowers. These are a perfect decoration for any fiesta.
#15: Make and Then Break a Piñata
No Mexican fiesta would be complete without a piñata!
Many discount stores sell piñatas. If you had the opportunity to visit a Mexican grocery store, you probably saw piñatas of all shapes and sizes hanging above the produce section. They also sell piñata kits that include the rope, stick and a handkerchief.
Find a wood stick for the kids to hit the piñata. Tie the end of a long rope to the top of the piñata (most come with a wire loop) and find a safe place to hang it. Your location should accommodate the height of the kids and have enough space for them to safely swing the stick and retrieve the falling treats.
Hang the piñata, give each child an empty treat bag, line up the kids by age or height, hand the stick to the first in line and get ready for the fun! Typically, while one child hits the piñata, the remaining kids and party guests sing the piñata song to count down before the next kid’s turn.
If your kids are feeling adventurous, you can tie a handkerchief over their eyes and have them spin 3-5 times before hitting the piñata. Be sure to keep safety in mind!
Some Final Thoughts…
Cinco de Mayo is an excellent opportunity for you and your family to learn about Mexico. Celebrate Mexican culture and heritage with a traditional craft, game or meal, and discover why so many people across the United States observe Cinco de Mayo each year. These activities offer something fun for every member of your family and can be combined for your own fun fiesta at home.
What do you think? Have you ever celebrated Cinco de Mayo with your family? Did you attend a festival? Are you inspired to host your own celebration at home with one or more of these activities? Which is your favorite? Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments below. We’d love to see your photos, too!
Heide Estrada loves to create family memories. When not working, you will find her photographing her children, trying new recipes, planning family trips or browsing Pinterest for her next project. Other posts by Heide Estrada »