Why Cinco de Mayo thematic teaching is guaranteed to build stronger vocabulary

cinco de mayo picture
Read about how students increase their vocabulary and reading

A new thematic approach to teaching about Cinco de Mayo

I decided to take a new thematic approach to teaching about events like Cinco de Mayo. I have found that my young students really enjoy thematic method of teaching so I created some new resources that were fun and engaging for them. They also fit in with my active learning strategies.


“What is concept-based instruction?”

You may be asking, “What is concept-based instruction?” It is when your curriculum is all connected together by a certain theme, such as Cinco de Mayo. Your vocabulary, reading, and writing are centered around your theme. My themes and vocabulary words come from our social studies and science units.

Concept-based instruction will provide your students with countless benefits. Here are just a few. Your students will: (Inspirational Teaching Using Limited Resources)

  • Have fun,
  • Be more actively involved,
  • Develop learning skills more quickly, as each one is connected to and reinforced by the other,
  • Be more confident and better motivated,
  • Present fewer discipline problems.

Because I am so passionate about music in the classroom, I like to add music to my lessons whenever possible. My students love our fun salsa song about positional words for our Cinco de Mayo theme. My thematic teaching ideas help make the best connections, especially for my unmotivated students. They get so excited to learn the new theme for the week! I introduced the theme during calendar time and continued it throughout the day.

CLICK HERE for the game-changing resource that will captivate your entire class for good!


Use a vocabulary calendar of May words to step up student literacy

I begin teaching my students about Cinco de Mayo using this calendar of May words. I like to show my students the words for the week, and then discuss each word for the day. It is one of my activities for morning meeting. I also use this time to clap syllables in words, discuss the meanings of the words and help students discover word parts that help them sound out words. phonics is a big part of my instruction.

I introduce and sing the song for cinco de mayo. The song also includes the vocabulary words that I introduce for the week. Singing and clapping syllables are  quick and simple ways to incorporate active learning strategies for kids. My students also highlight these words in their emergent readers.

I explain and review these words every day so my students can build and improve their understanding of this thematic vocabulary. Then they do a cut and paste worksheet at a center during guided reading to reinforce the word. You can read more HERE. Students will use these words to write a story at the end of the week. Their writing skills improve with each week.  See writing samples HERE.  

picture of may vocabulary calendar
Students will build great vocabulary with these words.

Try these instant solutions for reading with comprehension

A great way I discovered to increase reading with comprehension and teach social studies was using this Cinco de Mayo Boom Reader. It has real photos that help children, especially my SPED and ESL students to make connections. They can listen to the audio by clicking on the speaker icon. They can also practice reading the cards if they don’t click on the speaker. I love using these Boom cards because I can teach with them on a Smartboard or use them in centers for my students to read on their own. There are questions, finding words, and practicing phonics in this deck. I love how excited the kids get when we use them! This bundle has so many options to differentiate for students.

Check out a few cards for FREE HERE!

Sign up for your free Boom Reader all about Reading HERE! Your students will learn words like vowels, blends and digraphs in this fun Boom reader along with a song that helps students to learn how to read.

Vocabulary for social studies

These vocabulary Boom cards are great for developing vocabulary for social studies.

Read more about why I love Boom Cards HERE.  

My students benefit from seeing the real images of the words and hearing the definitions of the words. I like using these cards in centers as a followup to the Cinco de Mayo Reader. There are also cards that help them with syllables, phonics and finding the words in sentences. They love dragging the pointer to the correct answers, and the best part is they are self-checking!

Try out a few cards for free HERE. 


The ultimate benefit to a thematic method of teaching is the powerful collection of words for vocabulary my students are learning. Their writing skills increase the more we write using a thematic vocabulary list each week. These thematic words help them to stay on topic, and they provide constantly increasing confidence for my children.

Do you use thematic method of teaching in your classroom? We would love for you to leave a comment if you do and let us know how well it works for your students. If you haven’t tried it, instantly take all the guesswork out of the process one of our thematic units by CLICKING HERE.


They also include word wall cards with real images like the book. Students really benefit from seeing them displayed each week. Some teachers like to use them in writing centers. Email us with any questions at info@dynamiclearning.com. We are here to make your teaching more dynamic.

Enjoy your vocabulary-building!

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