Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May, is a localized celebration in the area of Puebla, Mexico. On May 5, 1862, the Mexican army defeated the French army at the Battle of Puebla. In 1861 the government of Mexico, under Benito Juarez, had stopped making payments on its national debt. France decided to move in and take over the country, which it did in 1864, but not before suffering defeat in the state of Puebla. The Mexican army was outnumbered 2 to 1 and yet they defeated an army which had been undefeated for 50 years—truly a great victory.
Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated every year in California since 1863. In the United States it is a day to celebrate Mexican culture and the heritage of Mexican Americans. Food, music, and dancing are common events during Cinco de Mayo celebrations. It has become a popular holiday around the world. There’s more information at Wikipedia and Mexonline (a good site for students).
Here’s a yummy treat to make with your kiddos to celebrate the day. (You’ll need adult supervision because of the oil!) Set up a cooking station that kids can rotate to during the day. A classroom volunteer can man the station and work with 3-4 students at a time. This works well, even with very young children. Set it up so that the skillet is not at the same table where the children are working. A small desk behind the volunteer is ideal: that way you won’t have to worry about splattering grease. Children can do everything EXCEPT the frying. Leave that for the adult. Cover the work areas with butcher paper, and you’ll have a quick and easy clean up. Utensils you will need are bolded. Have a sweet day!
Fried Mexican Tortillas (Crispas)
flour tortillas, small size (at least one per student)
cooking oil for frying
1-2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
- Cut flour tortillas into fourths. (Use plastic knives. Popsicle sticks also work well for this!)
- Fry the tortillas in an electric skillet. Turn them with tongs.
- Place some of the sugar and cinnamon in a lunch bag (you’ll need a clean bag for each group). Close the top and shake to mix.
- Drop a few fried tortilla pieces into the bag at a time. Close the top and shake to coat the tortillas.
- Cool on a paper towel.