Cinco de Mayo Lessons with "La Vida"

Cinco de Mayo lessons provide a way to teach students about history, art, music, and regional food.

By Cathy Neushul


Cinco de Mayo Lesson

When Cinco de Mayo comes around each year teachers, like myself, pull out their folders with activities and information, and get ready to cover the annual holiday. Sometimes they might try to add something new, but most of the time they use what they already have. This year maybe a change is in order. Instead of doing the same old, same old, maybe you can infuse something a little different into your Cinco de Mayo lessons.

First of all, you will need to cover the historical significance of the holiday. Most of the lessons below have a link to the information you need regarding the celebration, but some of them add something a little different. I was surprised to learn that the conflict between France and Mexico was in part caused by a loan gone bad. I was also interested to find out that there are  similarities between Abraham Lincoln, and Benito Juarez, the Mexican leader during this conflict. With a new spin on the everyday information, your students can see the celebration in a new light.

Then you can get on to the fun stuff. In the lessons below you'll find art lessons, suggestions on how to incorporate a study of mariachi music into your lesson, and quite a few recipes. You can have your students make tortillas, liquados, or a variety of other items. Viva la Fiesta.


Cinco de Mayo: In this lesson students learn about the historical significance of Cinco de Mayo, and engage in a variety of extension activities. One of the reasons this lesson stands out is that it provides students with some critical thinking opportunities. They are asked to  give their opinion about a quote made by Benito Juarez, and General Lorencz, the head of the French army during the battle.

Bean and Seed Mosaic: Students make a bean and seed mosaic in honor of Cinco de Mayo. This lesson is interesting because it asks students to incorporate symbols into their artwork to show what they have learned about the topic.

Let's Have a Fiesta: In this lesson students get to listen to the book "Too Many Tamales" by Gary Soto. They also can make tissue paper flowers, liquados, and tortillas.

Mexican Holidays: This lesson provides an in depth look at the holiday. There are links to everything you could possibly want to know about Cinco de Mayo. There is a link to an informative site which talks about one of the real reasons the French sent troops to Mexico. The lesson also provides links to many different extension activities, including art projects. 

Cinco de Mayo - What is it?: This lesson gives students an overview of the holiday and some interesting extension ideas. I particularly liked the idea of teaching students about Mariachi music as a way to enrich the lesson. You could also follow the lesson suggestions and have your students prepare some authentic food.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo: This is a novel lesson that compares Abraham Lincoln to Benito Juarez..Comes with helpful information about the lives of Benito and Juarez.  There are also worksheets with a list of spanish words with their translations, a word search, and directions for a Cinco de Mayo feast.