Thursday, October 14, 2010

Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead Lesson Plans and Activities

photo by Paul and Jill

Día de los Muertos is quickly approaching, so I thought I would share some of the many fabulous resources that I have discovered over the years. Because this holiday is so popular, there is a growing number of lesson plans, units, and crafts now available on-line.

Thematic Units:

- By far, one of the best curriculum units has been created by Lori Langer de Ramirez, creator of MisCositas. It is geared for third year (intermediate) Spanish students. This is a comprehensive unit with 63 pages of activities, vocabulary, and more.

• also has a shorter (31 pages) Teacher Packet with a really great bibliography. The packet is probably better suited for younger children, as it includes more coloring pages, and some simpler activities.

• Day of the Dead Mini-Unit A simpler lesson plan that includes a short description and example of “Calavera” Poems.

• Lesson Planet has 26 lessons related to Dia de los Muertos that you can scroll through. Each description includes the grade level and a rating. The downside is that you have to create an account, but you can get a free trial period for 10 days.

• Dia de los Muertos ISP  This is a VERY detailed and serious lesson plan for second graders. A treasure for teachers searching for a good, meaty lesson.

• And MommyMaestra has several articles with a list of resources, including a brief history of the holiday and information on José Guadalupe Posada.


• also has a virtual webquest with lots of links and ideas. You may also be interested in her virtual picture book: Mi abuela ya no está: Un cuento acerca de la celebración del Día de los Muertos en México

• Author/Illustrator Yuyi Morales also has a few excellent activities that can be used in conjunction with one of her Trickster books, and she also has a downloadable Teacher’s Guide.

Inside Mexico has a great list of articles on a variety of subjects.


Oy Mexico - a free Día de los Muertos app


• A list of Latino children's literature on Day of the Dead

• Be sure to check out the new children's picture book, Rosita y Conchita, which describes Día de los Muertos with an accurate description of the altar and the ofrenda, as well as the reason for them. Possibly the best children's picture book on this subject.


• First! Download your FREE Day of the Dead Activity Calendar

• Are you building your own ofrenda this year? Why not download my printable ofrenda labels to help explain the elements on your table to visitors? It even includes free-standing labels to place next to framed photos of loved ones, with space to write their name, relationship, and likes/hobbies.

• Check out all of my Day of the Dead printables! From notecards to minibooks to triptych activities, I have you covered!

• Do you have older students? Let them try their hand at creating their own Calavera Poetry

The Muppets has put out a super cute coloring page of Kermit in honor of Día de los Muertos. 

ESOL Courses has quite a few free worksheets & exercises on Día de los Muertos has a nice collection of coloring pages

• The Ultimate Printable Day of the Dead Party Kit

Crafts & Supplies:

• Crayola has a good activity for making sugar skulls out of clay. It also has another section with more crafts for celebrating the holiday.

• Check out this DIY Catrina craft for kids

• Here's an easy way to make your own Calavera Pumpkin!

• Don't miss the Crafty Chica's directions for creating your own felt Día de los Muertos banner. It is super cute! She also has this video for easy step-by-step instructions on making your own shrine-on-a-stick, as well as ways to modify the craft into other decorative ideas.

• (singular- no “s”) This site will amaze you. Trust me.

• The Calavera Kit comes with a detailed description of the holiday, suggested reading, additional resources, ways to supplement the craft, as well as the painted papier-maché skull, design patterns, and markers that allow children to decorate their own sugar skull.

• And check out my post on how to make tissue paper marigolds, my free coloring page, and my calavera craft kit.

• Take a look at this set of 30 bookmarks from (comes with 3 different designs). They also have a calavera mobile kit, sugar skull molds, and much more! has a great download for making your own miniature photo frames and banners.

Creative Kismet has a tutorial for creating your own Day of the Dead planters. My kids made miniature pots and loved them!

ModernArt4Kids has several great Día de los Muertos art projects for classrooms.

Learn Create Love has a fun printable craft that allows your kid to decorate their own Day of the Dead skull

Deep Space Sparkle has a five fun Día de los Muertos activities for kids.


• "Oaxaca: The Day of the Dead" A beautiful video describing how the holiday is celebrated in Mexico

• "Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Decorating Party" One of Muy Bueno Cookbook's high-quality short films on the holiday. A must-watch for students.

• "Dia De Los Muertos" from Whoo Kazoo - Such a lovely, animated short film on the holiday!

Las calaveras están de fiesta

• In-flight movie - El Día de los Muertos en Mexico

Global Wonders —Their short animated video shares what the holiday is all about.

Dia de los Muertos: Young People's Ofrenda – This is a beautiful short video about a collaborative project of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and El Colegio charter school.

Los esqueletos —Teach your kids to count in Spanish with this super cute video. (Listen for the singer's Castillian accent.)

Viva Calacas — I found this video on It is my favorite so far! Parents and children both will love this short video from art director and designer Ritxi Ostáriz.

Other Resources:

• Check out MommyMaestra's Pinterest board on Día de los Muertos.

Con mucho cariño...


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