Day of the Dead is an annual holiday celebrated in Mexico and other countries throughout Latin America. It is a multi-day celebration that honors family members who have passed away. The holiday is held on November 1st and 2nd each year, coinciding with Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
Throughout the holiday, people honor the memories of their departed family members and friends by decorating their gravesites with colorful flowers, promoting rituals and festivities, displaying photographs of their loved ones, and sharing traditional foods like pan de muerto (bread of the dead) to symbolize the cycle of life. Meanwhile, many Latinos celebrate the Day of the Dead by dressing up as skeletons or costumed characters to represent ancestors coming back from beyond. The vivid celebration recognizes death as a part of life and serves as an opportunity to remember deceased loved ones joyously.
Spanish Class Activities for Day of the Dead
- Day of the Dead Lesson Plan – In the first place, students will learn about the origin of the Day of the Dead through an English text and will discuss the concept of ‘cultural syncretism.’ They will later discover the deeper meaning of the festival through a video and will learn some of the elements that are part of the festival —the altars, the calaveritas, or skulls, and others. Finally, they will watch a video about the influence of Halloween on the traditional Day of the Dead in Cancun. Students will think about the differences and similarities between the two and will discuss the importance of celebrating the Day of the Dead and its possible future.
- Ofrenda de Día de Muertos (El altar) [INFOGRAFÍA]
- Day of the Dead Spanish Vocabulary List Handout – A vocabulary list in Spanish with English translations. Includes all the 30 words used in the activities.
- Day of the Dead Vocabulary Presentation with Audio – Vocabulary Powerpoint presentation with audio clips from a native Spanish-speaker. It features 23 vocabulary words and illustrations about the Day of the Dead.
- Day of the Dead Spanish Vocabulary Illustrated Handout – A letter-size handout featuring 15 vocabulary words that can be printed in full color or black and white.
- Day of the Dead Spanish Vocabulary Printable Poster – Decorate your classroom with a poster that you can print in 3 sizes: legal, tabloid or 18″ x 24″.
- Day of the Dead Spanish Vocabulary Word Search – In 2 versions; with the list of words in Spanish or with the list of words in English (translation exercise).
- Day of the Dead Spanish Vocabulary World Jumble Activity – A word jumble activity where your students (individually or in a small group) write the letters of a word in the correct order.
- Day of the Dead Spanish Vocabulary Crossword Puzzle – An English to Spanish translation crossword puzzle where your students translate the English word to fill in the crossword with the correct Spanish word.
- Day of the Dead Reading and Listening Comprehension Activity – A reading or listening comprehension activity featuring an authentic newspaper article called “Una mirada al altar del Día de los Muertos”. The article is available in Spanish and English for you to choose the most suitable for your students’ level.
- Day of the Dead Printable Coloring Skulls Activity – A series of printable skulls to color. This activity is ideal to close the Day of the Dead topic. Includes instructions for the teacher.
- La Santa Cecilia – Calaverita – Present Tense and Mexican Traditions – Spanish song cloze activity that includes three versions, video link, and a short artist bio. Choose the version that is most suitable for your students’ level.
- La Castañada – Cultural Presentation and Activities – Introduce your students to this tradition from Cataluña, Spain celebrated on November 1st (All Saints Day)