Día de los Muertos is celebrated on November 1 and 2 every year. This special holiday has roots in Mexico and in some parts of Latin America. “Día de los Muertos” in English means “Day of the Dead,” and it is a time when people gather to celebrate their family and friends who have passed away. It is intended to be a time for joyful celebration, not a sad time for mourning. Families make ofrendas (altars) in their homes, on the streets, or in cemeteries. Traditional elements include skulls, marigolds, and pan de Muerto, and candles and photographs are used to create the ofrendas.
If you are not familiar with Día de los Muertos, check out these two websites to learn about this wonderful holiday!
Día de los Muertos Classroom Resources
The first resource I have for you and your students is a Día de los Muertos digital breakout. I sure did enjoy researching and designing this breakout. I learned mucho! Educators, if you need the answers, please email me at email@example.com!
PBS Learning Media provides a two-minute student-narrated video in both English and Spanish with subtitles. It covers events during Día de los Muertos, and highlights include ofrendas, sugar skulls, paper picados, dancing, and a trip to the candle-lit altars in the cemetery.
Grades: K-2, 3-5
National Geographic provides a video called What is the Day of the Dead? You will find vivid real-life imagery and festive music in this two-minute video. The site also lets you access 11 beautiful photographs honoring Día de los Muertos.
Google Arts and Culture has an online exhibit called The Meaning of the Altar. It is presented by the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum. The exhibit is a combination of:
- A slide deck with symbols and explanations
- ¡Chequea Esto! Animated Short Series: Day of the Dead featuring a teenager, Florentina and her abuelita (grandmother) who explains the tradition and cultural practice of honoring their ancestors
- Oral history videos
The Go Valley Kids website is certainly a goldmine with plenty of information about Día de los Muertos:
- Explanation of this holiday
- Ten things to remember about the Day of the Dead
- Six videos (My favorite video is Oaxaca: The Day of the Dead)
- Crafts and art projects
Day of the Dead Crafts
If you would like to try your hand at creating Papel Picado, make a copy of this template to share with your students. The Google Slide deck comes with step-by-step instructions on how to make a digital Papel Picado. There are five colorful selections for making the banner and several traditional graphics for making the cut-outs.
If you would like to try your hand at tissue paper Papel Picado, try following this video by Duck Duck Goose Fun. The six-minute video gives easy directions for making this colorful Día de los Muertos symbol. TIP: I would suggest you pre-cut the tissue paper rectangles first. All you need is:
- Colored tissue paper
- Curly ribbon
- Glue stick
One of my favorite go-to sites for easy crafts for kids is Red Ted Art. Here you will find:
- Fuzzy felt skulls
- Tissue paper marigolds
- Printable skull masks
- Calavera (skull) Papel Picado template
If you want to try your hand at making sugar skulls, tbsp. has this recipe. The ingredients and process look simple enough to follow. The only drawback is that this project might have to wait until next year, as getting hold of a sugar skull mold could be a challenge right now due to limited stock and price.
If you happen to have a 3D printer, look on the site, Yeggi for skull molds.
I hope you enjoy these resources and activities! Are there any that you do each year? If so, leave a comment and let us know!
Resources from our Readers
Infographic and Article
Our friend and blogger, Maria Jose Meneses of Porch, shares an informative article and infographic. She writes, “Día de Muertos is one of the eldest and most important traditions in Mexico. Thanks to movies like “007: Spectre” and “Coco,” its popularity has increased worldwide in the past few years. However, not everyone knows exactly what is being celebrated nor how to do it; from baking pan de Muerto to building an altar, there are many ways to celebrate this Mexican Holiday no matter where in the world you are.
That’s why I decided to create Tips for Celebrating a Fun and Festive Día de los Muertos at Home, an article about what Día de los Muertos is and tips on how you can celebrate it from home.”
Free Template for PowerPoint and Google Slides
TCEA member, Scott Firenza tweeted out that the wonderful SlidesMania has a free template for either Google Slides and PowerPoint. The template features: editable sugar skulls and papel picado.
Featured image: Created by TCEA staff.