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Day of the Dead Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Have your students heard of the Day of the Dead? This lesson plan uses a fact-filled text lesson and an activity to explain this Mexican day of remembrance to students.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • outline the significance of the Day of the Dead
  • explain the practices associated with the Day of the Dead

Length

  • 1 to 1.5 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.2

Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.3

Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.7

Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).

Materials

  • Assorted images exemplifying the skulls that are associated with the Day of the Dead
  • Paper copies of the text lesson Day of the Dead Lesson for Kids
  • A worksheet created using the quiz associated with the text lesson
  • Construction paper in assorted colors
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Glitter

Instructions

  • Display the images of the skulls for the class.
    • Does anyone know what these skulls represent?
  • Pass out the paper copies of the text lesson to the class, one per student.
  • Instruct the class to take turns reading aloud a line or two at time from the introduction and 'Día de los Muertos' section of the text lesson.
    • Why might skulls be the most common symbol of Day of the Dead?
  • Now have the students take turns reading the rest of the text lesson aloud to the class.
    • Can you think of any holidays that are similar to Day of the Dead in our culture?
  • Pass out the worksheet and ask students to work independently to complete it.

Activity

  • Ask the class to take another look at the images on display.
  • Now pass out the paper and other materials and ask students to create their own Day of the Dead skull resembling those they see on display.
  • When the students have finished creating their skulls, have them write three facts about the Day of the Dead that they learned in the text lesson on the skull.
  • Allow the students to hang their Day of the Dead skulls throughout the classroom.

Extensions

  • Host a Day of the Dead celebration in the class where students honor lost loved ones and feast on their favorite foods.
  • Help students craft sugar skulls like those made by children in Mexico to celebrate the Day of the Dead.

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