How to have fun with Día de los Muertos in your classroom

Día de los Muertos is exactly what its name suggests - it's the Mexican day of the dead. It is celebrated on November first and November second, and it is dedicated to family members loved ones that have passed away. Día de los Muertos is a way to remember them and pay them respect.

Unlike what you might imagine about the day of the dead, the holiday is rich in colorful colors, candles, flowers, and sugar skulls.

Its festive and "creepy-cute" visual identity makes it possible for educators to approach the always-touchy question of death in an unusual and non-gloomy way.

If you decide to leave the subject of death entirely out of it, Día de los Muertos still provides an endless inspiration regarding arts and crafts!

Let's review five fun ways to celebrate Día de los Muertos in your classroom this year.

Cavalera mask


Cavalera – the skull - is one of the main symbols of the Day of the Dead. Unlike many Halloween versions, Día de los Muertos cavaleras look non-threatening and almost always evoke sympathy. They come in many versions, which makes them ideal for creating personalized Cavalera masks - every one of them unique - a bit like with Halloween, masking is an essential part of the Day of the Dead

Print out the base for the mask - the skull itself, and prepare colouring pencils, paint, markers, glitter and gems to customize each mask.


Classroom decoration


Decorations dedicated to the late loved ones, which include flowers, sugar skulls, and lively paper decorations, are one of the primary elements of Día de los Muertos. The wide range of colors and ornaments that the holiday offers will let you get really creative.

Miniature shrines


Miniature shrines or altars are traditionally prepared for the Day of the Dead, and like everything else, they are colorful and lively. A shrine is a great project for a group of children since it's small enough to be finished quickly and big enough to let everyone participate. If your school has a significant historical figure somehow connected to it, you can dedicate the shrine to him or her. There are many ideas about what to use as a base for the shrine - smaller ones are made out of glass jars, or custom made out of wood, but going for a shoe box might be a practical option for a classroom setting. If you have a lot of kids in your class, you can make several shrines, or create a really big one on one of your tables.



Explore Mexico and its traditions


Besides just having fun with crafts, it is very enlightening for the students to know the origins of the holiday. You can explore Mexico and its customs with your students, and perhaps try to paint a more detailed picture about their relationship to the dead. This will give all your creations a deeper meaning and real context.


Plant some marigolds!


Beautiful marigolds are one of the symbols of Día de los Muertos. They bloom in an amazing array of colors at this time of year. They make great plants to take care of in school since they are very hardy and adaptable. If your local climate allows planting in this time of the year, consider getting a couple of marigold bushes for your school garden.

And the beautiful thing about planting flowers is that it makes a nice metaphor for the circle of life - dead matter goes into the soil, and out of the same soil the new, lush life appears, this time symbolized within a marigold flower.



Or if you are looking for a low prep option why not check out my Día de los Muertos Celebration Study as pictured below. It includes fun facts about Día de los Muertos, postcards, and adventure passes.


Feliz Día de los Muertos!






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