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Exploring Our Festivities and Fiestas

by Elida Guardia Bonet

Latinos like to celebrate special occasions with music, dances, food, and stories. Family celebrations such as birthdays, weddings, family celebrations, Christmas, and the Day of the Dead are very important in the Hispanic community. Choose from the music, decorations, books, stories, food, crafts, and games suggested in this program to create a fiesta. Since it is summer, you may wish to have a "Celebración del Dia del Padre para Toda la Familia," a "Father’s Day Celebration for the Entire Family." Include a raffle for a special prize. Enjoy the fiesta!

Books to Share

  • A Birthday Basket for Tía by Pat Mora.
  • La Boda, A Mexican Wedding Celebration by Nancy Van Laan.
  • The Bossy Gallito by Lucía González.
  • The Fabulous Firework Family by James Flora.
  • La flor de la nochebuena / The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie de Paola.
  • A Gift for Abuelita: Celebrating the Day of the Dead by Nancy Luenn.
  • The Piñata Maker / El piñatero by George Ancona.
  • Por fin es carnaval by Arthur Dorros.
  • Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
  • Vejigante masquerader by Lulu Delacre.
  • Ventanas mágicas / Magic Windows by Carmen Lomas Garza.
  • ¡Viva! ¡Una piñata! by Elisa Kleven.


Decorate tables with bright tablecloths, tissue paper flowers, papel picado, confetti, and streamers. Hang a piñata from the ceiling and let the children break it and have the candy during the program.


Play festive mariachi music or invite a mariachi group to perform.


Serve dulce de leche, pan dulce, tamales, and other foods from various Spanish-speaking countries.


Las mañanitas

(Las mañanitas may be found in De Colores and Other Latin American Folk Songs for Children by José Luis Orozco. You will also find the lyrics and may listen to a recording of the song on the El día de los niños/El día de los libros web site at

La piñata

"La piñata" in De Colores and Other Latin American Folk Songs for Children by José Luis Orozco.

Musical Recording

Cada niño / Every Child by Tish Hinojosa.



At holiday celebrations and family gatherings, families enjoy playing Lotería. It’s just like bingo, except that instead of numbers and letters, Mexican Lotería uses pictures. There are 48 cards or pictures. Even the little children can play, since they can recognize the pictures. Mexican supermarkets and Spanish teachers’ catalogs carry this game.

En la casa de Rosita

This game is played by children at parties. Pick a leader who says:

En la casa de Rosita hay una estrellita,

que se mueve así, (hands up)

y así, (squat down with hands on knees)

y así. (stand up with hands on waist)

�El que se mueve lo pellizco así!


In Rosita’s house there is a star,

that moves like this, (hands up)

and this, (squat down with hands on knees)

and this. (stand up with hands on waist)

The one who moves will be pinched!


Children remain still with their hands on their waists while the leader counts. The leader will pinch the first one that moves as she/he says: "Te moviste.." You moved.

Crafts ( has lots of craft suggestions and is searchable by the name of the craft or by materials. Here are three excellent ideas that you will find at that web site.

Color a Piñata

For toddlers and preschoolers, copy the picture of the "donkey" Piñata at the end of this chapter, and let the children color it.

Make a Piñata

For directions to make a Piñata with a balloon and papier maché, search under "papier maché crafts."

Tissue Paper Flowers

For directions to make tissue paper flowers, search under "paper blossoms."

Luminarias and Tin Can Lanterns

For directions to make luminarias and tin can lanterns, search under "can crafts." Or, for directions for luminarias, look in Hands-On Latin America: Art Activities for All Ages by Yvonne Y. Merrill.

Papel Picado

Make papel picado using directions at the the El día de los niños/El día de los libros web site at

Guest Presenters

Invite a mariachi band or ballet folklórico to perform at your library.


Sesame Street Fiesta! (30 minutes)

Web Site

Look in the section about music and entertainment at ( for a list of the First Annual Latin Grammy Winners.

Cuentos de Animales | ¡Es hora de festejar! / Fiesta Time!

Page last modified: March 2, 2011