Photographer Katie Dixon, Creative Commons

  • Grades 3-5
  • Visual Arts
  • English & Literature
  • History
  • Language Studies

Comparing Cultural Holidays
What comparisons can you draw from the artistic and cultural traditions of Halloween and the Day of the Dead?

In this 3-5 lesson, students will compare the holiday traditions of Halloween, celebrated in the United States, and El Día de los Muertos, celebrated in Mexico. Students will research and gather information about the traditions, music, and visual art. Each student then replicates a tradition associated with El Día de los Muertos by creating an altar in memory of an ancestor who has died.

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Lesson Content

Learning Objectives 

Students will: 

  • Compare how the holidays of Halloween (in the United States) and Día de los Muertos (in Mexico) are celebrated. 
  • Research the traditions, music, and history of Halloween and El Día de los Muertos. 
  • Create an altarpiece in honor of someone who has passed on. 

 

Standards Alignment

Recommended Materials

Coco’s - Un Poco Loco, Vocabulary, Organizer: Comparing Cultural Holidays, Google Map of Mexico, Halloween BrainPop, Halloween Britannica Kids, Day of the Dead Britannica Kids, Slide: El Día de los Muertos Altar

 

Teacher Background

Teachers should review these resources to familiarize themselves with customs associated with the Day of the Dead. Review the book recommendations, but feel free to substitute for a different Day of the Dead book: The Festival of Bones by Luis San Vicente, A Gift for Abuelita: Celebrating the Day of the Dead by Nancy Luenn, The Day of the Dead by Bob Barner. Spanish language teachers may choose to modify the lesson to meet language requirements.

Note: The process of creating the altar may be sensitive or emotional for some students. Encourage students to use only positive, constructive feedback. Circulate the room offering guidance and support.

 

Student Prerequisites 

Students should know where Mexico is located (review Google Map of Mexico) and general facts about Mexican culture (language, food, dress). 

 

Accessibility Accommodations

Modify handouts as needed and allow extra time for task completion.

  • Original Writer

    Mary Beth Bauernschub

  • Editor

    JoDee Scissors

  • Updated

    January 28, 2020

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