Charro Days is a festival in Brownsville, Texas that honors the rich heritage of this border city. The festival first started in 1937 as a way to lift the spirits of Brownsville residents during the difficult days of the Great Depression and it celebrates both Mexican and American cultures. Celebrate the food, music, dancing and parades that are part of the festival by creating festive art projects with your toddler.
Recreate the fireworks of Charro Days with straw art. Use red, blue, green and white tempera paint to honor the colors in the Mexican and United States flags. Give your toddler a paper plate with a small glob of each color on the plate. Give her a straw and show her how to blow the paint around on the paper. Make sure the area is well protected, because the paint will get everywhere. Show your toddler how to blow from the side near the paint, too, so she doesn't accidentally swallow any by sucking it up the straw.
There are three parades at Charro Days -- a children's parade, a parade with bands from both countries and a night time parade with costumes and floats. Help your toddler make her own instruments for the band. Make cymbals by decorating disposable pie tins with markers. Crashing them together will be a hit -- at least for the toddler with the cymbals in her hands. Make a set of maracas by filling old vitamin bottles with peas or beans. Shaking them adds rhythm to the parade.
And of course, every parade needs a drum. Punch a hole in the cover of an old oatmeal or coffee can. Poke a hole through the bottom of the container, too. String a string long enough to go around the toddler's neck and through both holes. Give her pencils or chop sticks to use as the drum sticks, and she will keep the rhythm going. (Keep this instrument stored away when adults are not around because of the choking danger posed by the string.) Play some Mexican mariachi music to march around to once you've completed your ensemble of instruments.
Provide your toddler with modeling clay and a picture of a popular food from Charro Days, such as tacos. Have her make a taco out of the modeling clay. A rolling pin can roll the clay flat for the tortilla, a garlic press makes grated cheese and a plastic knife can be used to create olives, tomatoes, lettuce and meat out of various colors of clay.
The costumes of the charros, or Mexican horsemen, are colorful and embellished with sequins and embroidery. Give your toddler a picture of a charro to color. Once he's done, help him add sequins and glitter to the picture with glue to create a glitzy charro.
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