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Cinco De Mayo Activities for High School Students

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Cinco de Mayo Recipes and Activities

Your middle and high school students can have a great time learning about the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo since many aspects of Mexican culture are already familiar to them, and the food is undeniably delicious. These can be used on May 5th or during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Read on for different activities such as Mexican recipes and a free download!

Learning about Cinco de Mayo History

Did you know that Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the victory of the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862? The Mexican army defeated the French. The battle was a symbolic moment for the Mexican people and inspired a sense of national unity and patriotism.

The battle also delayed the French occupation of Mexico City, and although the French eventually conquered the country, the memory of the Battle of Puebla remained an important part of Mexican history and culture, leading to the celebration of Cinco de Mayo.

Fun Cinco de Mayo Lesson Plans and Activities

1- To introduce the holiday, show a quick video about it to your students to provide some background information. This one is by the History Channel.

2- Have students complete a Cinco de Mayo Wordsearch with vocabulary terms about the foods and other vocabulary associated with the holiday. This can be a fun way to help students get familiar with common Mexican celebration vocabulary words associated with the fifth of May.

Mexican Recipes

3- Cinco de Mayo Recipes- cooking traditional Mexican food is a great way to introduce Mexican heritage to middle school and high school students. Here are some recipes that we have tried.

Tacos al Pastor

  1. Slice thin steaks out of a pork shoulder. Toast guajillo chili and ancho chili and New Mexico chili over a fire in a skillet and then steep them in chicken broth until they are soft. Take them to the blender and add chopped yellow onion and garlic cloves, some squeezes of lime juice, and cilantro and puree the mixture. Use the mixture as a marinade for the pork steaks.

2. Skin a pineapple and cut it into 4 pieces widthwise so you have 4 discs of pineapple. With the bottom piece of pineapple, feed a large skewer through so the point is sticking straight up.

3. Start feeding the marinated pork on the skewer using large cuts first alternating direction of pork. The last piece on the top of the skewer should be a chunk of pineapple. Roast the meat and pineapple.

4. Serve by carving the knife down the side of the roast until the little pieces of pork fall out and put in the taco with roasted pineapple, diced white onion, and cilantro on a white tortilla.

Street Corn Nachos with Chorizo

  1. Cook prepared chorizo so it is crumbled up like taco meat. Take corn on the cob, char it on the fire on the range top or a grill, and cut the kernels off the cob.
  2. Season the corn with chili powder, lime juice, salt and pepper, and queso fresco crumbled. Put nachos on a plate, add the chorizo, shredded cheddar, corn, and black beans, and heat in the oven for 3 minutes so the cheese melts.
  3. To finish, create a type of taco bar and add queso fresco, diced red onion, chopped cilantro, and a few extra squirts of lime juice or a lime wedge. Other taco ingredients such as tomatoes, and guacamole also work!

This taco is a delicious celebration of Mexico.

Lesson Plan Ideas for Cinco de Mayo

We have a complete Foods of Mexico lesson that includes a slideshow, guided notes, and questions if you are looking for a no-prep way to teach Mexican cuisine.

Free Cinco de Mayo Download – Foods Research Assignment

To have students dig into additional information about the foods of Mexico, have them work independently or in small groups on this free Cinco de Mayo download research assignment below. Students can present their findings using the interactive whiteboard. You can take it a step further and have them create Google slides or an infographic for the bulletin board about the food they researched.

Your students will learn a lot by teaching one another and it is a great opportunity for students to build confidence and nurture your classroom culture.

Another Cinco de Mayo Recipe-

Elote is a delicious and traditional Mexican dish that consists of grilled corn on the cob slathered with a variety of toppings. It is a great way to participate in the celebration of Mexican culture. Here is a unique recipe for Elote that you can use for a high school class:


  • 6 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mise en place your ingredients.
  2. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
  3. Grill the corn until lightly charred, turning occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes.
  4. While the corn is grilling, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, cotija cheese, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  5. When the corn is done, remove it from the grill and let it cool for a few minutes.
  6. Using a pastry brush or spoon, spread the mayonnaise mixture over each ear of corn, making sure to coat all sides evenly.
  7. Serve immediately, garnished with additional cotija cheese and cilantro if desired.

This recipe adds a unique twist to the traditional elote by including cotija cheese and cilantro in the topping mixture. It’s a great way to introduce students to new flavors and ingredients while celebrating Mexican culture and cuisine.

More Activities to Celebrate the Cinco de Mayo Holiday

Read a bilingual children’s book like Todos a Comer a book about the foods of Mexico! This is a fun way for students to learn about Cinco de Mayo and practice their Spanish language skills. These types of cultural activities are not only for younger students but can be great for older students in classes such as family consumer science, culinary arts, social studies, and Spanish students.

Take a Trip– Lastly, take your students on a Virtual Field Trip: Take a virtual field trip to a Mexican cultural institution, such as a museum or historical site. This is a great way for students to learn about Mexican history and culture in a fun and engaging way. Other virtual field trip ideas include:

  1. Museums and Historical Sites: Take your students on a virtual tour of Mexican museums and historical sites related to the Battle of Puebla, such as the National Museum of Mexican History or the Forts of Loreto and Guadalupe.
  2. Cinco de Mayo Parades: Many cities and towns across the United States hold Cinco de Mayo parades to celebrate the holiday. Check with local organizers to see if they will be hosting a virtual parade or live-streaming the event.
  3. Mexican Cultural Centers: Many cities have Mexican cultural centers or organizations that promote Mexican culture and traditions. Take your students on a virtual tour of one of these centers to learn more about Mexican history, art, music, and dance.

Why Celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Culture

Celebrating the culture of Mexico is a wonderful opportunity to teach students about Mexican culture, traditions, and the history of Cinco de Mayo. From learning about the significance of the Battle of Puebla to trying out traditional Mexican recipes, there are many different ways that these activities can be incorporated into your lesson plans for middle and high school students.

By providing your students with a deeper understanding of the meaning behind this holiday, you can help them develop a greater appreciation for the diverse cultures and traditions that make our world so rich and fascinating.

By encouraging students to explore and learn about different cultural celebrations, we can help create a more tolerant and accepting society. Cinco de Mayo is just one example of the many ways in which we can embrace and learn from the diversity of our communities. By incorporating these lesson plans and activities into your classroom, you can help your students develop a greater sense of empathy and understanding towards different cultures, which can ultimately lead to a more peaceful and inclusive society.

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