Every year I seem to change how I teach about the Día de los Muertos (DM). Here’s what I’ve done this year, in addition to the Festival, that are more focused on using the language.

I can describe what they eat.

I brought in some Dead Bread and barbecue mole from Qdoba’s. I gave a short intro in Spanish about where they were from and that they were part of the DM. Then they got a small piece. I asked them to smell it in Spanish. What do you smell? Eat it. What do you taste? Then I asked their opinion. Then I asked them to describe all this in their journals in Spanish. Next we did the same thing with the mole. (Update: Read “Tasting Station” to see how to do this and keep it in the TL)


I can describe the activities.

I read the book “Mi abuela no está” to them on the floor. I explained that they would not understand everything, but will understand the main ideas. In English we talked about the different views of death.


I can describe Catrina.

We looked at some pictures of Catrina in different forms of art and described her in Spanish as a class. This was a pretty quick lesson that I combined with another. The level 2 class worked on creating this photo booth. We traced Catrina on paper using the overhead projector. Others were covering the board and cutting out parts. Next we will cut out the face part for the festival. Hopefully this will make us a little money at the festival!

I can describe the decorations and make a papel picado.

I demonstrated this in class in Spanish after looking at some examples. Afterwards they strung them together as a class. They described the decorations and colors in Spanish in their journals. A relaxing day to appreciate the arts!

I can chant “Chumbalaca.”

This one has been great fun! I chant this in class. They repeat the chorus and drum out the beat on their desks or drums. Then I assign an “hour” to different students that act it out in front of the class when I say it. They actually asked to make some props so I gave a little class time to raid my prop box or create on paper. Next week they are going to perform this for the younger children in the building (real audience).


I can describe an ofrenda.

We started by looking at some photos of ofrendas. I gave them a picture sheet with the vocabulary in Spanish. They were already familiar with these so we played a listening game. I gave them the same sheet but without the words. They partnered up. I said the word in Spanish, they raced to be the first one to circle the word. The next round they put an X. They have an optional homework to create a shoebox ofrenda for someone.

I can compare Halloween to Día de los muertos.

We watched the video from Teacher’s Discovery. Then they worked on a web quest. I called small groups one at a time to complete the big Venn Diagram with pictures with Spanish. It also gave me a chance to talk to them in small groups, comparing the cultures. We played the fly swatter game where I said a word in Spanish, they slapped “Halloween,” “Día de los Muertos” or “Ambos.” At the end of the day, they wrote a comparison in their journals.

“Para el habitante de Nueva York, Paris o Londres, la muerte es palabra que jamás se pronuncia porque quema los labios. El mexicano, en cambio, la frecuenta, la burla, la acaricia, duerme con ella, la festeja, es uno de sus juguetes favoritos y su amor más permanente.”

I can read a poem and identify different perspectives about death.

For level 2, I show them the poem by Octavio Paz. They highlight according to my directions on the “Highlight away” post. Then we talked about what it meant. We did this in English, but I thought it was important to analyze poetry to support our English Arts standards. I asked them to write one more line that could be added to the poem either about their culture or the Mexican’s. Very creative day! Along the way, I’ve been announcing different cultural activities that are happening in the community. Next week we will focus more on Halloween, including that Guess ’em app with the Halloween characters.