Cinco de Mayo can be a tricky day to teach about. Its relative insignificance when compared to other holidays makes it hard to give up a day in class. However, the common misconceptions and confusions about its importance makes us want to include it if only to set the record straight with our students! Check out this Cinco de Mayo lesson plan for novice Spanish class and share about the celebrations (or lack thereof) with your novice students!
Watch the Video
- El Ratón Pablito
- Teacher’s Guide for El Ratón Pablito
- More books from Spanish Cuentos
- Books Your Novice Students Will Love Blog Post
- Reading Activities Playlist
- Circling in Spanish Class Blog Post
- Digital Cinco de Mayo Activities for Spanish Class
- Cinco de Mayo Activities and Lesson Plans for Spanish Class
Materials Needed for the Lesson
This lesson is based on the short story from the book El Ratón Pablito. The book is full of wonderful short stories, but when I first read it I was struck by how the author was able to succinctly communicate that not all Spanish speakers celebrate Cinco de Mayo, and how the American perception of it as a big nationwide fiesta is really just not the case!
Side note – all of his books are wonderful, so make sure to check them out here.
Cinco de Mayo Lesson Plan for Novice Spanish Class
Before starting the short story, have your students brainstorm what they already know about Cinco de Mayo. Give students time to write on a KWL organizer, chat and add to the whiteboard, or do it digitally with Google Jamboard. Whichever option you choose is up to you!
Depending on the level of your students, you may want to do some pre-reading activities. As I mentioned in the video, at this point in the year with Spanish I students, this story is very accessible! It really relies on high frequency verbs, family vocabulary, illustrations, and footnotes. Just glance through the reading and decide if your students will be comfortable or not.
If you need to do any front-loading with the vocab, here’s a quick option: make sure all students can see a copy of the reading, then split it up by paragraphs. Give groups of students a numbered paragraph, or give students a set amount of time to skim the whole reading, and have them circle any unfamiliar vocabulary. Then, go through the reading as a class, and write in any words they weren’t sure of, prior to reading the story.
Reading Out Loud
Following the pre-reading activities, read the story out loud with your students. There are quite a few ways you can do this, but my preferred choice for this lesson would be Choral Translation. You read in Spanish, they translate to English, all the way through. This way you can easily check for understanding.
Reading Comprehension Activities
After you have read the story out loud with your students you can choose any reading comprehension activities you would like! Tabata timeline could be a great fit here to add some movement into your lesson, or Speed Date Translate to get them up and talking to each other!
As you finish up the lesson, it could be a great option to watch a short video on the history of Cinco de Mayo to reinforce the event and the regionality of the celebration. I like this one, if you skip the first 14 seconds and end it at 1:49 or so! (Edpuzzle is a great tool to lock in those time stamps so you don’t have to panic every time you play it).
Finally, have your students do a follow up activity to reinforce the lesson, or check in with a formative assessment to see what they understood.