Cinco De Mayo, celebrated on May 5th every year celebrates Mexico’s victory over France in 1862. While a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, it has evolved into a large celebration in the USA of Mexican food and culture. Keep on reading for all the best Cinco De Mayo games and activities, along with worksheets, lesson plans and more.
Cinco De Mayo ESL Activities and Games
Let’s get into the best games and activities to celebrate Cinco De Mayo day in style. Save the date: May 5th!
#1: Running Dictation
Try out this fun and engaging 4-skills activity with your students. Find, or write a conversation between two people talking about their past experiences, or upcoming plans for Cinco De Mayo.
Then, post each sentence on a strip of paper somewhere in the classroom. Students have to work together to dictate the passage. Once they’re done that, they can put the conversation into the correct order. The first team to finish is the winner. Have a look at it here:
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 111 Pages - 03/22/2021 (Publication Date)
#2: Vocabulary Auction
This is a fun game that’s ideal for reviewing new vocabulary. Prepare a number of sentences related to this popular holiday. It could be facts or opinions about it. Then, cut out each word. Laminate them first if you plan to use this for multiple classes.
Then, put students into groups and they can bid on the various words. After that, there’s a trading round. The winner is the team with the most grammatically correct sentences. And in this case, the statements and questions must also be factually true. Learn how to do it here:
#3: What is Cinco De Mayo?
Have a look on YouTube and you’ll find a ton of videos that talk about Cinco De Mayo is, including the history. If you teach lower-level students, add “ESL” to the search query and it will be easy to find ones at an appropriate level.
Try out this challenging listening game with your higher-level students. Find, or write a passage of someone describing their experiences with this holiday, or perhaps about the history of it.
Then, put students into pairs and read it out at a faster than normal pace. Students can take notes and then work together with their partners to try to recreate what they just heard. Repeat the process and then students can compare what they have with the original version. Find out more:
#5: Survey Activity
Just ask my students and they’ll tell you that I love to use surveys in my classes. They’re ideal because they can be adapted to just about any topic, including this one, they cover a range of skills in a single activity and they also get students out of their seats moving around the class. This is ideal for sleepy classes!
It’s easier than you might think to design your own. Find out all the details:
#6: Speaking Lesson Plan
It’s certainly possible to design an entire ESL speaking lesson based on this holiday. Find a short reading or listening passage and then go from there.
Sounds intimidating? It doesn’t need to be if you follow these simple steps. Have a look here:
#7: Cinco De Mayo History and Facts
I love to talk about what exactly is Cinco De Mayo and teach students some facts about it. If you want to level up, have a little trivia competition after, or a puzzle of some kind.
#8: Task-Based Activities
I love to use task-based activities in all my classes every once in a while. They’re a nice change of pace from the usual communicative style activities.
In this case, I might put students into groups and have each group pick (or assign them) a topic related to this this holiday. For example:
- How’s it’s celebrated in Mexico
- How it’s celebrated in the USA
Then, each group can do some research and make a poster or PowerPoint slide. After that, they can give a short presentation to the class. That’s just one idea. There are lots more:
#9: Conversation Starters
Maybe you’ve had this experience too? You tell students to talk about something for a few minutes and then nobody is talking! Of course, it’s not the students’ fault. It’s usually that they don’t have enough direction to know what they’re supposed to be doing.
Instead, I prefer giving my students some conversation starters related to this holiday. Then, it’s much easier to keep the conversation going. Try it out for yourself and I’m sure you’ll notice a big difference!
#10: I’m an Alien
It’s often the case that students know a good deal about certain holidays before you teach them about it. If you suspect that this is the case, try out this simple activity.
Pretend that you’re an alien and know nothing about life on Earth. There’s a holiday coming up that people are getting ready for and you’re not sure what it’s about! Students have to explain all about Cinco De Mayo to you.
#11: Picture Prompt
This is a sneaky way to find out what students already know about a certain topic. Find a picture of people celebrating Cinco De Mayo and put it up on the screen. Then, elicit from students things they see. There are various ways to do it, depending on the level:
#12: The Telephone Game
I’m sure you’ve played this game when you were a kid. The way it works is that you have to pass a secret message down the line from person to person until the end, where you compare it with the original version.
In this case, the message should be related to this holiday. Find out more:
#13: A Class Party
Cinco De Mayo is all about the food and drinks for many people! Why not have a Mexican-Food-themed party to celebrate this popular holiday? Better yet, get the students to do some research about people in Mexico celebrate this holiday and then incorporate some of those traditions into your party.
#14: Sombrero Activities
This is one of my favourite Cinco De Mayo kids’ activities. Make some sombrero-shaped sugar cookies and some icing. Then, get the students to bring in some decorations to share with their classmates. I like to have a little contest to see who can create the most eye-catching one!
#15: Time for Tacos!
If you have the resources, this can be quite a fun Cinco de Mayo activity for adults. In a prior class, talk about this holiday and also about tacos, including ingredients and how to make them. Then, get each student to bring a topping, plate and a few napkins into class that day and then have a taco-making and eating party!
Cinco De Mayo Vocabulary
- amigo (male friend)
- amiga (female friend)
- cinco (five in Spanish)
- Mayo (May in Spanish)
Cinco De Mayo Worksheets and Handouts
If you’re a teacher, then you already know how much time you can save by using what other teachers have created. In this case, there are a ton of great worksheets that celebrate this Mexican holiday.
Cinco De Mayo Lesson Plans
Another way to save a ton of time is to use these ready-made lesson plans:
Cinco De Mayo FAQs
There are a number of common questions that people have about this popular holiday. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
When is Cinco De Mayo?
Cinco De Mayo is May 5th each year.
What is Cinco De Mayo and Why is it Celebrated?
Cinco De Mayo is celebrated on May fifth and celebrates the day that the Mexican army defeated France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Is Cinco De Mayo the Day of the Dead?
No, Cinco De Mayo is not the day of the dead. It celebrates a Mexican army victory during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862.
Did you like these Games and Activity Ideas?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 94 Pages - 05/30/2015 (Publication Date)
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You can find the book in a variety of formats. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. Or, take the digital version with you to your favourite coffee shop for a serious lesson planning session. Finally, consider listening to the audio version when commuting to work for some serious inspiration.
Whatever the case, get ready for some ESL teaching awesome in your life. Head over to Amazon to find out more:
Have your Say about Cinco De Mayo ESL
What are your thoughts about celebrating this popular holiday with your students? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2021-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API