Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mommy Maestra Special: The Calavera Kit

I am always looking out for multicultural crafts to incorporate into our lessons. But they are often hard to find. Or it takes me a while to hunt down all the necessary materials. And sometimes I discover a way to simplify a project and make it more age-appropriate.

With Día de los Muertos coming up, I was trying to think of a project that I could do with my kids that would overlap with other areas that we are studying. And I am pleased to say that I have come up with my own simple calavera kit.


This kit comes with a papier-maché skull that is ready to decorate and a set of 10 markers. I went ahead and put together a booklet with the history of Día de los Muertos, written for young students; a list of online resources; ways to supplement the craft kit; and a list of suggested reading for children. I’ve also included instructions and design patterns.

After talking about the holiday, I asked my kids to decorate their own calavera and handed them the design patterns, in case they wanted to use them. My son ignored it and instead immediately began decorating the skull with images of his favorite things: a horse, a cowboy hat, hearts, and flowers. My daughter on the other hand, carefully inspected the designs and then used a few of them to draw vines along the top. While they were busy decorating, I left the room and when I returned, I found her gluing the image of the sun from the design pattern onto the back of the skull. She had carefully colored it in and cut it out. I was excited to see her thinking outside the box and taking charge of her craft so creatively. It had never even occurred to me that the patterns could be used in this way. She also ventured away from the designs and drew her own designs, including a tombstone and an angel, which she said was “hanging out” near the cemetery.


I am not opposed to Halloween, but I am not a fan of the scary and macabre aspects of it, either. Some of it is just too much for little kids (and adults!) In fact, when my daughter was younger, she was scared to pieces of the Halloween displays in Target and would cover her eyes if we passed by that section. To this day, she tries to cover her brother’s face, so that he won’t be scared, either.

Discussing Day of the Dead and its emphasis on remembering our friends and loved ones who have died has helped to give her a different perspective about skeletons, skulls and the human body. This craft has also helped to dispel any fears. And since we will be studying the human body soon, it goes well with our science lessons, too.

I am really happy when an idea I come up with for school turns out to be a good one (yes, sometimes, my ideas bomb!). And the funniest part of this whole project to me was the fact that both my kids felt compelled to give the skulls eyebrows! Because this has turned out to be a really fun project, I have made a few extra kits in case any of you are interested in trying one with your own student(s). Just click here, or on the link at the top of this page labeled “Mommy Maestra Specials”.

Con mucho cariño…

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