MEXICO: Cinco de Mayo means “May 5th” in Spanish. It is celebrated especially in Puebla, Mexico, but has become popular in the United States to recognize Mexican culture in general. Historically, it is important because while Mexico’s army was the underdog and expected to lose a battle way back in 1862, the French & Napoleon (Francia/ France) actually lost.
You see, France was angry because Mexico had not paid back money they owed them; instead, the president Benito Juarez gave the money [he owed France] to his people instead, who were suffering (poverty, etc.). France decided that enough was enough, and went to invade the country, anticipating that it would be an easy win; however, something unexpected occurred that day: it started raining cats and dogs, which created huge mudslides on the hills surrounding the small town of Puebla… and allowed the Mexican army to win, proving the impossible possible.
In class, students made flags to represent each country (México/Francia), were divided into two groups, set up glue sticks to represent the armies (France’s army was really big; Mexico’s was small), built a circle out of blocks to represent the hills surrounding the town in Mexico, and then the French army group pretended to fall/slide down the hill as they listened to rainstorm sound effects on the Promethean board. Later, we celebrated with Mariachi music. ASIDE: immediately following this lesson last year, it started absolutely pouring, so kindergarteners thought that they had made it rain!!!
Other years, we have extended this project to talk about sombreros and sombras (shade/shadows) vs. luz/light (natural y artificial). Activities to do at home include the following: make your own sombrero; choose a different craft from THIS LIST; play Shadow Tag outside; take 3-5 photos of interesting sombra/shadow shapes; and/or cook something HERE. The Burrito Zucchini Boats look fun!
LINKS: Batalla de Puebla, The 5 Magical Towns of Puebla That You Should Not Miss, Mexican Metal Tooling, Ojo de Dios (Huichol), Talavera