Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

Appropriate for grades: K - 12
Subject areas: History and Social Studies Visual and Performing Arts

Birth and death, two of the most transcendental moments of life are celebrated by all cultures according to their particular belief systems, historical development, environment, and evolution within their culturally specific context. Every world culture has coping mechanisms to deal with the loss of life. In Mexico, the belief among its native ethnic groups and within the great majority of its Mestizo (mixed European, Indigenous, African ancestry) population, is that the dead have divine permission to return to the family home for forty-eight hours (November 1st & 2nd) each year to enjoy the pleasures they knew in life, and that it is the duty and responsibility of the surviving family members to welcome their deceased loved ones and ancestors for a brief reunion on their yearly visit. Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrates a communion between the living and the dead in a colorful festival of ritual and life. Spanish Language Version.

Teaching / Learning Goals:

Teachers and students will understand…

  • The historic and cultural context in which Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos is celebrated.  Reflect on other national holidays that remember/acknowledge people who have died, and consider practices in their own culture that commemorate the dead.
  • Reflecting a specific person who is living or dead, to translate character or physical traits into puppets
  • How puppets can reflect the cultures that they come from (historical and cultural understanding).
  • The characteristics of puppets (perceiving, analyzing and responding).
  • To create a skeleton  (human form-based) puppet using mixed media (creating and performing).

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