As you prepare your curriculum for May, it is important to consider incorporating culture and flavor into your lesson plans. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated, quite obviously, on May 5. This is a great time to introduce your students to this holiday, to explain the history of it, and to have them stretch their creative writing skills by journaling about it.
Cinco de Mayo Facts for Teachers and Students
Begin your lesson on Cinco de Mayo with a few of these fun facts about the holiday:
- Cinco de Mayo is often misinterpreted as a celebration of Mexican independence. However, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16.
- This national holiday in Mexico commemorates the Battle of Puebla, which took place in 1862. During this battle, the Mexican army defeated the French army despite the fact that the Mexican army had 2,500 less soldiers than the French army. It was a miraculous win by many accounts, which is why it is still remembered to this day.
- In order to experience an authentic Cinco de Mayo celebration, travelers should head to Puebla itself. Each year, the largest and most elaborate Cinco de Mayo celebration in Mexico takes place in this same town where the battle was fought in the 19th century.
- While the Puebla celebration is quite thrilling, Cinco de Mayo is actually celebrated more widely in the United States. For many, it’s an excuse to head to a Mexican restaurant and enjoy some delicious cuisine while listening to authentic music.
- Different cities in the United States have unique celebrations for Cinco de Mayo. Chandler, Arizona, for example, hosts Chihuahua races each year on May 5. In Los Angeles, the Festival de Fiesta Broadway draws hundreds of thousands of people.
- One of Americans favorite foods to enjoy on Cinco de Mayo is avocados. In fact, more than 81 million avocados are consumed on May 5 alone in the United States.
- While Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday and is celebrated widely in the United States, it’s also recognized by other countries around the world. Cinco de Mayo celebrations are held in Australia and throughout the Caribbean.
- Many musicians have found that Cinco de Mayo inspires them. There are several songs named after this springtime Mexican holiday, including those by songwriter Liz Phair and the band War.
5 Cinco de Mayo Journaling Prompts for Students
Now that you and your students know more about the origins of this holiday and the way that it is celebrated, consider these five writing prompts for your students’ journals:
- You’re planning a Cinco de Mayo party for your family and friends. Which of your favorite Mexican foods are you going to serve at the party? How will you prepare them?
- Instead of celebrating Cinco de Mayo at home, you’ve decided to head to Mexico for an authentic experience. Where will you go and what Cinco de Mayo celebrations will you experience while you are there?
- Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican culture, history, and heritage. With more than 33.6 million residents in the United States descending from Mexican ancestors, how do you feel Mexican culture has influenced life in the United States? What are your favorite aspects of Mexican culture and heritage?
- Discuss some ways that you see Cinco de Mayo celebrated in popular culture, the news, and throughout your own community. Do you feel that these celebrations accurately reflect the history of the holiday?
- Your teacher has decided to have a Cinco de Mayo party in school in order to commemorate this Mexican holiday. You and your classmates have been asked to help plan it. What will you do to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with your friends at school? What types of crafts do you think you should do? Will there be music or costumes? What will you put on the menu?
There’s so much to celebrate during the springtime, but Cinco de Mayo stands out as an important cultural holiday that should be incorporated into the classroom curriculum. With these facts and creative writing prompts, you can provide your students with insight into the background of this holiday and also give them an opportunity to reflect on how it is celebrated throughout the United States.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in your classroom, you’re sure to have a great time showing your students what is most important about this historical holiday. Just make sure to encourage your students to keep on writing!
Until next time, write on…
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