If you celebrate The Day of the Dead, or El Día de los Muertos, you know that it is a beautiful holiday that honors the lives of loved ones lost. It is a day full of bright colors, shared memories, delicious food, festive songs and dance. El Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life. This lively holiday is anything but scary, and it is a fun way to add some cultural awareness into your classroom. If you are looking for ways to incorporate this joyous holiday into your repertoire of lessons, read on for some fun ideas. The Day of the Dead activities in this blog are teacher approved and perfect for kindergarten through 2nd grade.
What does Day of the Dead Celelebrate?
Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, celebrates the lives of deceased family members and friends. On this holiday, families gather to share happy memories of loved ones who have passed away. Ofrendas, also known as offerings or altars, are created and adorned with items such as photographs, food, candles, marigolds, water, sugar skulls, etc. Items that are placed on ofrendas reflect the people that are being remembered and honored. Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. It is believed that on these two days, the souls of deceased loved ones return from the spirit world to be reunited with families and participate in the festivities. This lovely holiday originated in Mexico but is celebrated in many countries.
Day of the Dead Activities for Students
Whether you are looking for some activities on Day of the Dead to create a fun filled day in the classroom, or you just need a few ideas to complement your current lessons, we’ve got you covered! Read on for book recommendations, fun crafts, snack ideas, teacher approved videos, and even a no prep Día de los Muertos mini-unit!
Our Favorite Children's Books about Día de los Muertos
If you are teaching Día de los Muertos in your classroom (and I assume you are since you’re reading this blog), you’re going to want to buy some of these books. No great lesson is complete without lovely picture books to complement your teaching. I own most of these books, and I read them with my 4-year-old daughter who loves them! The pictures are linked to Amazon. This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will get a small commission with no additional cost to you.
Día de los Muertos by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
This cute children’s book is full of colorful illustrations. It takes children through the preparations and celebrations of Día de los Muertos. The author uses rhyme to give this book a nice cadence. However, I do recommend a practice read before reading it to your class to make sure you’ve got the rhythm and to practice the Spanish words that appear occasionally throughout the story.
Clatter Bash by Richard Keep
This delightful story brings skeletons to life for a day of celebration. Join in the fun as skeletons “sip-gulp,” “slurp-burp,” “whoosh-sploosh,” and “swirl-twirl.” This book is a great addition to any classroom library and is sure to make your kids smile. Not only will your kids enjoy hearing this book, but you will have fun reading it!
Day of the Dead by Tony Johnston
This sweet and beautifully illustrated children’s book follows two children who want to try everything their families are preparing for the Día de los Muertos celebration. “Wait, wait,” they are told repeatedly. Finally, it’s time to enjoy the tasty treats and happy celebrations. Although I very much enjoy this book, the book itself is quite small (6″X6.5″).
Day of the Dead Classroom Activities
We at 4 Kinder Teachers have created a fun and engaging Day of the Dead mini-unit. This resource has everything you need to teach all about Día de los Muertos. Included in this product:
- Digital / Google Slides Presentation with information about Día de los Muertos as well as a digital copy of the Day of the Dead easy reader.
- Day of the Dead printable activities
- Differentiated copies of Day of the Dead themed writing templates
- Student printable copies of the Day of the Dead easy reader
Fun Day of the Dead Crafts
Here are two simple, fun and cute crafts suitable for preschool (with some scaffolding) through second grade. I’ve made both of these with my 4 year old, and she loved them!
This easy tissue paper flower is sure to please your kids! You can differentiate this craft by choosing the leaf that best fits their cutting ability. The result is bright and lovely! We love simple cutting and gluing crafts!
Here is an adorable Day of the Dead mask. Be sure to cut the paper plates and black shapes for your students. Have them snip the squares, glue on the face, and decorate as desired. If the mouth is too difficult, model a simpler one.
Cute Day of the Dead Snack
Here is a cute snack that is dairy , gluten and nut free! To make these Dia de los Muertos marshmallow skulls you need large marshmallows, popsicle sticks or straws (I cut my straws in half), and edible ink pens. (I purchased these on Amazon and have since used them for cookies, cake balls and many other fun snacks.) You can either make these sweet calaveritas ahead of time, and then surprise your students with this adorable and tasty treat, or you can put a few of the edible ink markers on each table and have your students make their own. Below is a link to the edible ink pens I used.
This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will get a small commission with no additional cost to you.
Teacher Approved Videos for Day of the Dead
What is Day of the Dead? by National Geographic(2:06): This quick and informative video by National Geographic offers real footage of families preparing for and celebrating Día de los Muertos. You have to read the words, as there is festive music playing in the background instead of a narrator.
Award Winning Dia de los Muertos Animated Short Film (3:07): This beautiful animated short film follows a little girl on Día de los Muertos who is mourning the loss of her mother. It begins sad, but quickly reveals the power, beauty and joy of this special holiday. There is no talking in this short, but it is sure to captivate audiences of all ages.
The Skeleton Dance | Halloween Song for Kids | Super Simple Songs (2:00): Okay, so this isn’t really a day of the dead song, but it is a super fun skeleton movement song, and we all know skeletons are a big part of Día de los Muertos. Have your kids get up and dance with this adorable skeleton to add a little themed movement to your day.