Today is Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco de Mayo is not an American holiday, although perhaps it should be, since Mexican Americans treat it as a bigger holiday than do residents of Mexico. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla, where in 1862 a small number of Mexican soldiers defeated the French 100 miles east of Mexico City. People of Mexican ancestry in the U.S. celebrate this day with parades, folk dancing, mariachi music, and other fun.
Ask students to conduct research in the library and on the Web to find images and artifacts that suitably represent Mexico. Students can choose to research a piece of art, music, dance, literature, or food. Challenge students to think beyond stereotypical images of Mexico and Mexican-American culture (such as tacos, chihuahuas, and sombreros), and look for objects and icons with a deeper and more substantial meaning. Start your students' research with a brainstorming session which can include:
- Artists such as Diego Rivera
- Ancient Mexican peoples, such as the Aztecs
- The history of the Mexican state of Puebla
After students have completed their research, have them create a presentation that highlights something interesting, beautiful, significant, or amazing about their choice-and share the information with the class.
This article from America's Story from America's Library discsusses Cinco de Mayo as a "local legacy."
This site contains basic information about Cinco de Mayo, as well as dozens of links for further exploration an activities.
Xpeditions provides this map of Puebla, central to the story of Cinco de Mayo.