Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cinco De Mayo Preschool Lesson

Today was my last day to teach preschool this year! I thought about doing a May Day theme, but after an Easter lesson and a Spring lesson, we're all Spring'd out. So I decided to go with a Cinco de Mayo theme, and the kids loved it!

Coloring Page
I always have the kids work on a theme-oriented coloring page with crayons and stickers until everyone arrives. Click here for the one we used today.

Our little library branch has a section on "Upcoming Holidays," and I was hoping they'd have Cinco de Mayo books. Sure enough, they had tons! We read Cinco de Mayo by Mary Dodson Wade and Celebrate! It's Cinco de Mayo! by Janice Levy.

Simón dice...
The kids had a great time playing Simon Says in Spanish. I found instructions here, as well as a diagram of the body with body parts labeled in both Spanish and English. The kids and I stood up, and I told them to do what I did. I said, "Simón dice toca la cabeza," put my hands on my head, and the kids copied me. Then they guesssed what la cabeza means in English. We went through all the body parts and had lots of fun.

We made maracas out of little bathroom cups. The kids danced around the room shaking their maracas for a full 15 minutes while I sang every Spanish song I could remember from school. They loved it!!
4 small paper cups per child
a handful of dry beans, rice, or unpopped popcorn kernals
clear packing tape

Have the children use the crayons and stickers (or whatever else you want) to decorate the paper cups. To assemble each maraca, tear off a piece of packing tape about 18" long. Place one paper cup bottom-side down right in the middle of the tape and press down. Place about 10 beans in the cup and place another cup bottom-side up on top of the first so that the openings match up. While holding the cups in place, pull one side of the tape up over the top. Repeat with the other side of the tape. Tear off another piece of tape about 8" long. Wrap this piece around the middle of the maraca where the two cups meet. Gently smash down all parts of the tape that are sticking out. Repeat with the other maracas until each child has a pair.

Fruit Nachos
I don't know what the other moms do for snack time, but I like mine to be in-theme. Today was no exception. We had fruit nachos! They were easy and delicious. I took 2 flour tortillas, sprayed them lightly with nonstick cooking spray, sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar, and cut them into 8 wedges each with a pizza wheel. I put the wedges on a cookie sheet and baked them at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes. These were the "chips." For the toppings, I cut up apples, pears, oranges, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and kiwi, and also put out a bowl of raspberry yogurt. I put the chips on their plates for them, but I put all the fruit in bowls on the kitchen table and the kids were allowed to assemble their own nachos. They were delicious!

Mexican Jumping Bean Painting
As each child finished their snack, I helped them make a Mexican Jumping Bean Painting.
1 box with a lid, or flaps that close completely
scotch tape
dry beans
paper that fits flat against the bottom of the box
liquid paint--we used tempera paint that was thinned with a little water

You can only do these one at a time. Tape a piece of paper to the bottom of the inside of the box. Tape it in two places; you want the paper to stay put. Let the kids dip the dry beans in the paint and then place the beans on the paper in the box. When they have as many beans/colors as they want close the box. Have the child shake the box as hard as they can for about 30 seconds. Open the box up, remove and disgard the beans, and take out the paper. Each painting will be colorful and unique!

Mexican Flag Mosaics
Our last acitivity was a torn-paper mosaic Mexican Flag. I printed blank black and white Mexican flags on 8.5x11" paper (click here for the link), and tore up red and green construction paper, magazine pages, and scraps of old scrapbooking paper. In a perfect world, I would have had a gluestick for each child, but we had to share, which was exciting! The kids spent the last 15 minutes of preschool gluing green and red mosaic pieces to their flag. Green goes on the left and red goes on the right with white in the middle.


  1. great ideas... when we planned our co-op preschool this year, we forgot to include this holiday. we missed out on a lot of fun!

  2. I just finished reading a bunch of back posts, and am loving your blog. We have a co-op preschool too and am happy to have your blog as an additional resource. I talk about our preschool on my blog, but I like how much detail you give. thanks for some great ideas!

  3. We just made polvorones last year for Cinco de Mayo, and I was looking for new ideas this year. Thanks for much! I know the kids will love the fruit nachos (what a great idea!) and the flag mosaic is a perfect craft for my toddler.

  4. I can't wait to try out some of these things! Thanks!

  5. I'm the author of "Celebrate! It's Cinco de Mayo."
    Thank you for using my book with your students.
    Please look at my website at
    I'll offer discounted, autographed copies of my books - I have 12 titles - if you mention this blog.
    If you enjoyed "Cinco de Mayo," you'll like "I Remember Abuelito, A Day of the Dead Story." I used the same illustrator. It has recipes/crafts and a simple bilingual text, with an explanation of the holiday, which takes place around Halloween. It's used across the country in preschool and element. classrooms, too.
    I have picture books on various topics:
    1.bullying - "Alley Oops" values - "The Man Who Lived In A Hat"
    3.intergenerational bonding - "Abuelito Eats With His Fingers"
    4.foster children - "Finding The Right Spot"

    This year I have two new books out:
    "Gonzalo Grabs The Good Life" - a sassy rooster wins the Lottery and leaves the farm, only to realize there's no place like home; funny, with a message
    "The Runaway Radish" - an all English version, an all Spanish version, and a bilingual edition, a take-off on the Gingerbread Man, takes place in Mexico....this is being used in classrooms and libraries across the country as a learning tool.
    Thanks again for sharing my work. The photos are lovely on your blog and it's obvious you love what you're doing...we certainly need more educators like you!
    Janice Levy

  6. ok, we switched around some themes so I could teach cinco de mayo this week and use a bunch of your ideas :) thanks!

  7. Wonderful ideas! I just linked to the Mexican flag project from my site:

    Please let me know if it's okay to link to you like this in the future.


  8. Not to offend, but I thought it would be helpful if you included the entire web address that links to "simon dice". That way readers like me don't have to do a search in the website to find it...

    1. The Whine Country--Thanks for giving us the heads up. The link used to actually go somewhere, but that was 3 years ago! It should be updated now.

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  10. Hi Melissa,

    We just loved your ideas for Cinco de Mayo and featured you at our blog, Preschool Lesson Plans!

    You can find the full feature here:

    We were sure to give idea/photo credit, as well as a link back to your blog, but we'd love for you to check it out :)

    Hope you have a great week,

    1. Thanks Kayla! What a fun website; I'll have to use lots of your ideas this summer!