Thursday, April 30, 2009

Montessori Classroom Cultural Celebrations: May 5 is Cinco de Mayo and Kodomono-hi

montessori classroom cultural may 5 cinco de mayo kodomono-hi girl with pinata As we begin to wrap up the school year, Montessori teachers and students can both benefit from a break in the routine. A cultural celebration provides Montessori teachers with the opportunity to foster understanding, empathy and an appreciation for cultural diversity. Winter is behind us and the temperature is beginning to rise. This is a wonderful opportunity to get outside with your students and enjoy the season while learning about other cultures’ celebrations! May 5 is a great time to explore culture curriculum studies, as there are two exciting holidays to celebrate with fun activities!

Montessori Classroom Cultural Celebrations: May 5 is Cinco de Mayo and Kodomono-hi

Cinco de Mayo
The Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May), has become increasingly popular in the United States. The day has become a celebration of independence and freedom. Many people may mistakenly think it is Mexican Independence Day, but it actually commemorates another event in the history of Mexico. On May 5, 1862 (more than 50 years after Mexico declared its independence from Spain), the Mexican army protected President Benito Juarez and the Mexican government from the invasion of the French Army. In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration full of Mexican food, mariachi music, folk dancing and other unique customs. In the United States, concerts and parades are held during the week leading up to May 5th.

montessori classroom cultural may 5 cinco de mayo kodomono-hi samurai doll
In Japan, the 5th of May is Kodomono-hi (pronounced Koh-doh-moh-noh-hee). This day is known as Children’s Day though most of the focus is on the male children. Girls have their own festival on March 3. During the festival, young boys are shown the importance of strength and determination. When Japanese boys are born, they are given a set of Samurai dolls. These dolls are displayed on Kodomono-hi. On a boy’s first Kodomono-hi, his family has a special meal and drink Japanese rice wine (called sake). To celebrate Kodomono-hi, Japanese families also eat rice cakes wrapped in bamboo leaves, fly kites with streamers and bathe children in iris leaves.

Activities for the Montessori Classroom:
  • Connect your study of Kodomono-hi with Egemenlik Bayrami (see previous blog).
  • Use Cinco de Mayo as a springboard for a discussion on the historical relationships of Mexico, the United States and Canada or Mexico, Spain and France.
  • Plan a day of Mexican and/or Japanese food preparation and meal. Explore rice cakes, sushi, plantain chips, sopes, and many other tasty treats!
  • Make Japanese kites with streamers and enjoy the outdoors together.
  • Study the history of the Japanese Samurai.
Cinco de Mayo suggested reading:
  • Cinco de Mayo by Mary Dodson Wade and Nanci R. Vargus
  • Celebrate! It's Cinco de Mayo / Celebremos! Es El Cinco de Mayo! by Janice Levy, Loretta Lopez, and Miguel Arisa
  • Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the Mexican Hat Dance by Alma F. Ada and F. Isabel Campoy
  • Cinco de Mayo: Day of Mexican Pride by Doering and Amanda
  • Cinco De Mayo: Celebrating the Traditions of Mexico by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith and Lawrence Migdale
  • Viva Mexico!: The Story of Benito Juarez and Cinco De Mayo by Argentina Palacios, Alex Haley, and Howard Berelson
  • Cinco de Mayo: Yesterday and Today by Maria Cristina Urrutia and Rebeca Orozco
  • Celebrating Cinco De Mayo: Fiesta Time! by Sandi Hill, Joel Kupperstein, Claude Martirot, and Claude Martinot
  • The Latino Holiday Book: From Cinco de Mayo to Dia de los Muertos--the Celebrations and Traditions of Hispanic-Americans by Valerie Menard and Cheech Marin
Kodomo-no-hi and Japan suggested reading:
  • Japanese Children's Day and the Obon Festival by Dianne M. MacMillan Japan for Kids: The Ultimate Guide for Parents and Their Children by Diane Wiltshire and Jeanne Huey
  • Japanese Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars! by Betty Reynolds
  • Colors of Japan by Holly Littlefield and Helen Byers
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, April 30, 2009.


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