Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the 1862 Battle of Puebla and victory over France. In North America, it is usually spent celebrating Mexican culture and traditions, especially music, food, and dancing.
It can often be hard to find Cinco de Mayo events that don’t involve margaritas, so we put together a list of kid-friendly games, recipes, crafts, and activities that are fun for the whole family.
And if you’re still not sure what Cinco de Mayo is, we’ve also included a handy video below to help explain things. Oh, and don’t forget to pull out a map and show the kids where Mexico is! ¡Diviértete!
What is Cinco de Mayo?
1. Learn some Spanish
A great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the kids is to learn some Spanish. It’s a beautiful language, and kids will have fun learning to pronounce all the new sounds. Start off with these easy phrases, do some counting, or watch some episodes of Dora the Explorer!
2. Read a fun book
A great way to learn more about other cultures is to read a book about it. Try reading a few books about Mexico first, to get a good grasp of the country itself, and then move on to Cinco de Mayo specific books that will give you lots of fun details.
For books about Cinco de Mayo, you could try Cinco de Mouse-O, a cute story about a mouse who find himself at a Cinco de Mayo celebration, or Cinco de Mayo to get a good introduction and some history behind the holiday.
For books about Mexico, try Next Stop: Mexico for some great images and information, Let’s Learn About Mexico for some interactive activities and colouring, or try Chicks and Salsa to have a few laughs.
3. Make your own maracas
Celebrate the day in musical style with some DIY maracas. The kids can get involved in the crafting process and will love shaking their new instruments. You can try these Egg Carton Maracas from Artsy Momma for some painting and glitter fun, or repurpose those leftover plastic Easter eggs in this Easter Egg Maracas craft from Made Everyday.
If you want to make them ahead and just let the kids shake away, these Marvelous Maracas from Making Multicultural Music are made from recycled bottles and are easy to assemble. Tip: Try filling your maracas with different fillings (beans, rice, popcorn kernels, salt, sand, birdseed, paper clips, small erasers, beads, etc.) to give each maraca a unique sound.
4. Play a game
Spice up the day with some fun Mexican-themed games. This will definitely kick your festivities up a notch. Playing a fun game with the kids is a great way to get them excited to learn more about Cinco de Mayo, and it’s also a great way to celebrate the day! Here are a few Cinco De Mayo games for kids from Purple Trail, or here are some downloadable game cards to start your very own game of Loteria.
5. Enjoy some yummy snacks
There are tons of great snack ideas for Cinco de Mayo, including paletas, pico de gallo, chimichangas, empanadas, or even just some homemade tortilla chips.
Paletas are super easy to make. They are basically just Mexican popsicles, except that they are traditionally made with fresh fruit, which makes them a healthy snacking option. Check out these four delicious recipes from Pineapple & Coconut, which even includes a recipe just for parents.
6. Have a Mexican-themed dinner
This is a great opportunity to have a fun fiesta feast! Put together all of your favourite taco ingredients, such as guacamole, fresh salsa, chopped lettuce, sautéed peppers and onions, slow roasted pork or chicken, refried beans, sour cream, shredded cheese, and your choice of hard or soft taco shells. Here are some great tips from Good Housekeeping.
Prepare all the ingredients and lay them out in small bowls on the counter. Let the kids assemble their own tacos at your very own taco bar!
7. Decorate a Mexican flag
Teach the kids about the different flags around the world by making a Mexican flag for Cinco de Mayo and comparing it with our own Canadian flag. You can print one to colour from the Internet, or try your hand at this cute tissue paper craft from Education.com.
If you still need a dessert idea for your fiesta feast, you could also try making this tasty Mexican Flag Dessert Cup from She Knows.
8. Invite everyone to hit the piñata
A great way to get everyone excited (and to include a large number of kids) is to get a piñata and let everyone have a whack. Kids love putting on a blindfold and hitting that paper-mache candy carrier!
You can buy one locally, or you can go that extra mile and make your own with the kids using this tutorial from Instructables. Just make sure you choose individually packaged candy, so they are still edible after the piñata cracks open and the candies fall all over the ground.
9. Start a band
This festive Mexican holiday is filled with fun music and dancing, so why not build your own family band? Using the maracas your made earlier, and this fun DIY mariachi guitar craft from She Knows, you can build all your instruments at home.
10. Do a Mexican hat dance
Teach the kids a new dance to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It is relatively easy and has a lot of repetition, so it is perfect for kids. Here is a Mexican Hat Dance tutorial, and a sing-along karaoke song to get you started.
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