Mexican Dance Fiesta -3yr- Mexican Hat Dance
Aradhana in Webster, MA USA
Mexican Dance Fiesta So Jeena Ann, who just turned 3, was a flower girl at a Mexican wedding in South Texas this past summer. Months before, my friend started sending her Spanish songs to get her used to the atmosphere, and Jeena Ann fell in love with everything Mexican months before the wedding. I figured we could extend the fun by combining this experience with her love of music and making her birthday into a Mexican Dance Fiesta. This was especially unique since we live in rural New England where there isn’t much diversity. All the kids invited were between 3 and 5 years old. Two older sisters, one 8 and another 11 also came. They had fun and participated in the games as well.
INVITATIONS: I took Jeena Ann’s birthday pictures when we went down for the wedding in order to get a more authentic touch to the pictures. (I figured she wouldn’t change much in 3 months.) I had Jeena Ann wear a typical, red, embroidered Mexican dress that I had bought on a previous trip to my sister’s in Albuquerque (but you could easily get it on Amazon.com), and a headband with little dolls on them that her grandmother had given her. (You could easily do a flower instead. I would stay away from sombrero’s because it would cause a shadow over the child’s face.) For the picture that I used for the invitation, I had her lie in a colorful hammock, holding a number 3 that I had bought at Michaels. The background is colorful with palm trees. I pasted the word FIESTA on the picture, and typed out the details of the invitation, (place, time, RSVP, and a request for canned goods in lieu of gifts). I also enclosed a map from the school to our house with a request that everyone arrive on time to not miss any activities.
DECORATIONS: The party took place at our house. I took advantage of the clearance sales at Party City right after Cinco de Mayo and decorated the living room walls with life-size Mariachi singers, maracas, and flowers. I also placed a child sized sombrero on the wall. On the table I had a colorful, tissue paper centerpiece that said Fiesta. Around the centerpiece were confetti shaped like maracas, cactus, and sombreros. I decorated with green, white, and red streamers (all colors on the same streamer) all over room. I bought these streamers at Oriental Trading. (These are the colors of the Mexican flag.) I used green window paint to write on our windows, Feliz Cumpleanos, Jeena Ann, 3 anos, and birthday. I put a colorful piñata of the number 3 on our living room fridge. Then, on another wall, I put up a cactus with a face for our Pin the Mustache on the Cactus game. I also had 4 helium balloons that said Feliz Cumpleanos. There are two chairs that go with the table. I tied two to each chair. Over the table, I had a huge banner that read Feliz Cumpleanos, Jeena Ann. We have a huge window seat over which I taped a serape tablecloth. On it, I placed two fiesta dinner paper plates. In one, I placed glue sticks. In the other, I placed crayons. I also had lots of fiesta cups and dessert plates that I used to decorate the end table which I had pushed into the wall. Outside, on the front porch, I had a sign that said Fiesta and on the chile peppers on the sign, I wrote, Feliz Cumpleanos, and Jeena Ann turns 3.
ACTIVITIES/GAMES: Make your own piñata When the kids came, I had them start off by making piñatas. I had instructions on the supply table. These instructions included a welcome message for the kids, Welcome to Jeena Ann’s Birthday Fiesta! We are going to transport ourselves to Mexico today! Can you find Mexico on the map? Then, I had a map of North America beneath it. Then, I had instructions to make the piñata. Each child got a brown bag. In it, there were green, white, and red streamers cut to size, a brown piece of paper to match the bag, and a green yarn. On the supply table, I had a premade piñata as an example. The kids had to glue two edges of the brown paper to the bottom of the bag, then they turned the bag upside down, and glued the streamers to make the same pattern as the Mexican flag, (green, white, red, green, white, red, etc.) Then they had to thread the yarn through the brown paper. Once they finished, I gave them a ziplock bag to put in the piñata. It had confetti in it to block the contents. Then, I gave them masking tape to close the piñata with. Inside the ziplock bag, I had a mustache sticker, a sticker that read Feliz Cumpleanos, a fiesta themed tattoo, a little maraca keychain, and three or four pieces of candy wrapped in Mexican themed paper, but they wouldn’t find this out until going home. At the bottom of the instructions, there was a map of the Mexican flag for kids to color if they finished early.
Airplane/Feliz Cumpleanos Dance Then, I had the kids pretend they were airplanes and fly to Mexico. I taught them that Happy Birthday in Spanish is Feliz Cumpleanos. After we practiced it, I told them that we would wish Jeena Ann a happy birthday in dance. Each child got two streamers, red and green. The birthday girl got the green, white, and red special streamers. Then, I played Feliz Cumpleanos by Tatiana, which is a great medley of various Hispanic birthday songs and Happy Birthday in English. The kids (and moms) danced with the streamers in their hands. We went in a circle, and switched from clockwise to counter clockwise and back every time the song within the medley changed. Mexican Hat Dance Then, I had the kids sit in a circle. I gave Jeena Ann a child-sized sombrero to hold. The kids passed the sombrero around. The kid with the sombrero when the music stopped, (in 20-30 secs) would be out and come and dance with me the next round. (This game is like hot potatoes.) The last eight kids in the circle got a mini sombrero. Jeena Ann kept the sombrero. The Mexican Hat Dance version that we used was Jarabe Tapatio by Mariachi Nuevo Jalisco. It was the most traditional and upbeat version that I found.
Mexican Jumping Beans Then, we played Mexican Jumping Beans. I played Mexico by Tatiana. The kids jumped around while the music played and had to stop when the music stopped. Kids who were out kept jumping. We just kept a mental note of who was out. (Basically statue.) Pin the Mustache on the Cactus I found this game in a mom and pop party store that was going out of business. The kids were blindfolded and spun around three times. (We counted in Spanish.) Then, they had to put the mustache sticker as close to the face as possible. Since they had to wait their turn, I had music in the background for the kids to dance to. Cactus Ring Toss I had inflated a cactus and gave the kids four chances to get a ring around it. The music was playing the whole time to keep it lively.
PINATA: I’m not a huge fan of piñatas, but it wouldn’t be a Mexican party without one. The kids followed me as I tied the piñata on a tree outside. I took a picture of the kids as a group before we started the game. I figured I wouldn’t be able to teach the traditional song sung while hitting the piñata, so I played Dale Dale by Los Solecitos as the kids tried to hit the piñata. I had them line up by height, but of course the birthday girl got to go first. Inside, there were lots of mustache stickers, tattoos, feliz cumpleanos stickers, and little erasers. Once the piñata burst open, I gave each child a red treat bag, and let them collect their treats. Dulces Suenos Finally, I read Jeena Ann’s favorite bedtime story, Dulces Suenos. A colleague of mine from the Rio Grande Valley gave this book to Jeena Ann. It is bilingual and about kids going to bed. Perfect, for ending the party.
Songs: The music was a very important part of our activities. Jeena Ann and I spent hours choosing the songs. The songs we played during the piñata activity and during the pin the mustache on the cactus were, Lupita by Lucero, (one of Jeena Ann’s favorite bedtime songs. It honors Our Lady of Guadalupe), Mexico by Tatiana, Bidi Bidi Bom Bom by Selena, El Raton Vaquero by Cri Cri, La Carcacha by Selena, Feliz Cumpleanos by Dora the Explorer, Maria la del Barrio by Thalia, Bibidi Babadi Bu by Tatiana, and Happy Birthday by Mariachi Garibaldi. Some of these songs are songs that my friend had sent her, some are old favorites of mine that now Jeena Ann loves as well. Others, we looked for, and Jeena Ann made the decisions. I tried to alternate between adult tunes and kid tunes so that the adults wouldn’t want to pull their hair out. I repeated the same music during the Pin the tail activity. While cutting and eating the cake, I played, Happy Birthday by Mariachi Garibaldi, Feliz Cumpleanos by Tatiana, Las Mananitas by Julio Preciado, and Feliz Cumpleanos by Dora the Explorer. Las Mananitas is the traditional Mexican birthday song. All the songs can be found on Itunes. I had the playlist in order by the time of the party.
COSTUMES: Jeena Ann wore her traditional Mexican dress and I gave her a choice of hair accessories. She chose to wear a green flower. I also wore a Mexican dress with a flower in my hair. The kids were encouraged to dress Mexican, but they didn’t have to.
PARTY SNACKS: I purposely went light on the party snacks. I had juice boxes to have with the cake. For the adults, I had three different kinds of Mexican sodas. One was coconut soda, another pineapple soda, and the third, Tropicola.
CAKE: I had a friend make the birthday cake. Jeena Ann wanted chocolate. It had green, white, and red frosting and said, Feliz Cumpleanos, Jeena Ann on it. I found cute Fiesta candles on line. One was of a cactus, another of a sombrero, and the third of maracas. We lit those. I served the cake on Fiesta plates and Fiesta napkins. I placed a white table cloth on the floor, and the kids ate around it. We sang Feliz Cumpleanos a Ti before lighting the candles. As the kids ate the cake, I had various Spanish Happy Birthday songs playing, including Las Mananitas, the most traditional Mexican Happy Birthday song.
FAVORS: Craft piñata: mustache sticker, Feliz Cumpleanos sticker, maraca keychain, fiesta tattoo, candy wrapped in Mexican paper Prizes: mariachi rubber ducks, flowers for the child’s hair, mini sombreros (Everybody ended up with at least one prize) Pinata: mustache stickers, feliz cumpleanos stickers, tattoos, mini erasers Overall, all the kids and the parents had fun. Jeena Ann hasn’t yet stopped talking about the fun that she had. They also left knowing how to sayHappy Birthday in Spanish.