Día de los Muertos:  Lesson Ideas that Authentically Reflect Its Meaning

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Día de los Muertos: Lesson Ideas that Authentically Reflect Its Meaning

Next weekend is Día de los muertos (Day of the Dead).  It is celebrated around the same time as Halloween, so many people assume that it is Mexico’s version of Halloween.  However, it is quite different than Halloween, so I have planned some lessons to explore the differences with my fourth and fifth grade Spanish classes.  Most of my students are Caucasian, but a few of my students (less than ten percent) are Mexican-Americans and one is an Ecuadorian-American.  I am really struggling with how to discuss this important cultural event.  I’ve decided that I want to discuss el día de los muertos, rather than having students color -  one of the million projects for Spanish teachers I found on Pinterest. I really think that it is important for students to see the art, festivals, and graves to begin to understand el día de los muertos, so I looked for some videos.  I found a generic “Mexico’s Day of the Dead” video from the Travel Channel that explains how it is celebrated in Mexico and a Kickstarter video for a celebration in Phoenix, Arizona.  

 At this point, I plan to do the following: Day 1, I will show the video “

DAY 1: Show the video “Mexico’s Day of the Dead” from the Travel Channel.   

OBJECTIVE: Discuss how Mexico celebrates the holiday, "Day of the Dead" and compare it to how we celebrate holidays in the U.S. 

STUDENTS WILL compare el día de los muertos to a holiday in their life/culture (I will suggest Halloween, if students struggle), focusing on how it is celebrated. 

STRATEGY: Scaffold this lesson with a Venn diagram and Think-Pair-Share strategies.

DAY 2: Show the video "Día de los Muertos PHX Festival"    

OBJECTIVE: Discuss the fact that even though el día de los muertos is a Mexican holiday, it is celebrated in the United States. 

STUDENTS WILL discuss similarities and differences between how el día de los muertos is celebrated in Mexico and how Day of the Dead is celebrated in the United States.

STRATEGY: Scaffold this lesson with a Venn diagram and Think-Pair-Share strategies.


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