El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, commemorates the lives of beloved dead. The Day of the Dead coincides with the Catholic All Saints Day and All Souls Day, November 1 and 2. Need free printable activities? You’ve come to the right place. Traditionally commemorative altars are brought to the cemetery so that the family may visit with the dearly departed. The human skull is an integral symbol in El Dia de los Muertos. Candies are made in the shape of skulls and people may paint their faces to represent a skull. Some of the United States Halloween traditions have developed from the Day of the Dead celebrations. The Day of the Dead is a religious holiday, culminating the Catholic traditions of All Saints and All Souls Day with earlier Aztec, Mixtec, Olmec and Toltec pre-Columbian traditions.
Tiki Chris at Flickr (click here) has designed twenty free printable skull patterns from one basic skull template. This would make an excellent art project. Using one basic design, students can exhibit their creativity in design, or simply color in the pre-made designs.
QuestConnect.org (click here) has free printable crafts and activities to thoroughly explore the Day of the Dead.
Witte Museum (click here) has 15 links for different Day of the Dead activity websites. Free printable crafts, lessons, cut and paste, coloring pages, recipes, historical information, literature, games, puzzles, word search, crossword and more.
Arty Ness (click here) has free printable Day of the Dead coloring pages.
Although many Americans, Christians included, freely decorate their homes with ghostly, frightening decorations, the same people balk at the idea of using skulls as a part of a religious celebration. I don’t decorate with anything scary because I don’t’ want to frighten children. But I respect the Hispanic and central American use of the skull; for them, this is tradition and they also show such devotion and respect for their beloved dead. I admire that. As an English as a Second Language teacher, we celebrated El Dia de los Muertos with our primarily Hispanic school population. I witnessed many shy, reticent students who spoke almost no English, come alive when they saw the familiar holiday decorations and traditions. It was very moving.
I encourage you as teachers, homeschoolers, religious education instructors and scout troop leaders, to explore the holidays and celebrations of other cultures, especially if you have a population of those students.