Day of the Dead Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

Teach your students the history and traditions of the Day of the Dead with this lesson plan. Students will read an informational text lesson about the holiday, make personal connections and comparisons, then make a Day of the Dead craft.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • outline the history of Day of the Dead
  • describe the traditions, beliefs, and customs of Day of the Dead
  • compare and contrast personal holiday traditions to Day of the Dead


  • 1 hour for core lesson
  • Time for additional activity

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.2

Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.3

Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.4

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 5 topic or subject area.


Key Vocabulary

  • Día de los Muertos
  • C alaveras de azúcar
  • O frendas

Warm-Up and Preparation

  • Ask students to think about one holiday that is particularly special in their family and have them write it down in their notebooks. Model on the board with your own special holiday.
  • Now ask students:
    • What kind of things does your family do on this holiday?
    • During what time of year does your holiday fall?
    • What special food, game, or tradition do you celebrate with your family on this holiday?
    • Is there a special way you and your family dress or decorate for the holiday? What is it?
  • If time allows, have students sketch images to show how their family or community celebrates special holidays.
  • When they are finished, break students into small groups and have them share their work, discussing similarities and differences and prompting one another with questions and comments. Model by sharing about your own personal experiences.
  • Now tell students they will be learning about a special celebration called Day of the Dead and give them a few minutes to share prior knowledge or experiences if applicable.

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