Muerto Plans

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Every year I seem to change how I teach about the Dia de los Muertos (DM). Here’s what I’ve done this year, in addition to the Festival, that are more focused on using the language. I put my goal sheet on for you. I can describe what they eat. I brought in some Dead Bread and barbecue mole from Qdoba’s. I gave a short intro in Spanish about where they were from and that they were part of the DM. Then they got a small piece. I asked them to smell it in Spanish. What do you smell? I translated what they said and wrote it on the board. Eat it. What do you taste? Then I asked their opinion. Then I asked them to describe all this in their journals in Spanish. Next we did the same thing with the mole. I can describe their activities. I read the book “Mi abuela no está” to them on the floor. I explained that they would not understand everything, but will understand the main ideas. In English we talked about the different views of death. IMG_1610

I can describe Catrina. We looked at some pictures of Catrina in different forms of art and described her in Spanish as a class. This was a pretty quick lesson that I combined with another. The level 2 class worked on creating this photo booth. We traced Catrina on paper using the overhead projector. Others were covering the board and cutting out parts. Next we will cut out the face part for the festival. Hopefully this will make us a little money at the festival! I can describe their decorations and make a papel picado. I demonstrated this in class in Spanish after looking at some examples. Then they made some using the patterns I put on the wikispaces site. Afterwards they strung them together as a class. They described the decorations and colors in Spanish in their journals. A relaxing day to appreciate the arts! I can chant “Chumbalaca.” This one has been great fun! I chant this in class. They repeat the chorus and drum out the beat on their desks or drums. Then I assign an “hour” to different students that act it out in front of the class when I say it. They actually asked to make some props so I gave a little class time to raid my prop box or create on paper. Next week they are going to perform this for the younger children in the building (real audience). I can describe an ofrenda. We started by looking at some photos of ofrendas. I gave them a picture sheet with the vocabulary in Spanish. They were already familiar with these so we played a listening game. I gave them the same sheet but without the words. They partnered up. I said the word in Spanish, they raced to be the first one to circle the word. The next round they put an X. They have an optional homework to create a shoebox ofrenda for someone. I can compare Halloween to Día de los muertos. We watched the video from Teacher’s Discovery. Then they worked on a web quest. I called small groups one at a time to complete the big Venn Diagram with pictures with Spanish. It also gave me a chance to talk to them in small groups, comparing the cultures. We played the fly swatter game where I said a word in Spanish, they slapped “Halloween,” “Día de los Muertos” or “Ambos.” At the end of the day, they wrote a comparison in their journals.

“Para el habitante de Nueva York, Paris o Londres, la muerte es palabra que jamás se pronuncia porque quema los labios. El mexicano, en cambio, la frecuenta, la burla, la acaricia, duerme con ella, la festeja, es uno de sus juguetes favoritos y su amor más permanente.”

I can read a poem. For level 2, I show them the poem by Octavio Paz. They highlight according to my directions on the “Highlight away” post. Then we talked about what it meant. We did this in English, but I thought it was important to analyze poetry to support our English Arts standards. I asked them to write one more line that could be added to the poem either about their culture or the Mexican’s. Very creative day! Along the way, I’ve been announcing different cultural activities that are happening in the community. Next week we will focus more on Halloween, including that Guess ‘em app with the Halloween characters. Please go to the wikispaces page! Take some ideas, and add some ideas!

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38 thoughts on “Muerto Plans

  1. How many days do you take for these activities usually? They are great ideas. I love to have them make Appel picado and the little skeleton puppets from teacher discovery. I liked your venn diagram too.

    • I spend about 2 weeks. One on Muerto and one on Halloween. Keep in mind they are also working on the festival booths and decorations.

  2. Love the idea of bringing in food- but at my school there is this new law where we can’t bring in food so I just had to show images and video :-( maybe I can have them do something with food for extra credit or homework…

    • I would tell them to experience it at home or at the bakery and take a video of their first bites! I give them options for homework and include this as one (like the Real World homework post). I am an anti-extra credit person. I find that it is unfair to let students “buy” their grade, when others may have no way to do it (money, transportation, time). But with options, everyone is has a way to explore and enrich their learning.

  3. What did you use to create the backboard for the photobooth – cardboard? If so, where did you get such a large piece? Who are you going to put next to “la catrina”? Thanks! (Sorry for all the comments :p) U guys rock!

    • I am a scavenger! The art class got new tables last week and I took two of the boxes (after getting some crazy looks). If that did not happen, I was going to Home Depot or HHGreg (an appliance store) to ask for an extra box. So yes, it is cardboard covered with the bulletin board paper with layers of other paper and tissue paper. Their plan is to put a mariachi skeleton next to Catrina. I can’t wait to see the finished project!

  4. Does anyone have a powerpoint with Halloween and DM vocab and the Spanish word? I want to play spoons and some other games.

  5. I tried to find the “Mi abuela ya no está” but couldn’t find a copy to purchase. However, at I found an online version of the story. Thanks for always offering such amazing ideas. The biggest thing I have to figure out is where to find sources that are not too frustrating for my Spanish 2 students but that are authentic sources that can challenge them.

    • Thanks for that link! I think I got the book from Scholastic, Club Leo. Always a challenge. Keep in mind you can make any authentic source fit any level. That doesn’t mean they will understand everything though. Maybe they are looking for cognates, words they recognize, and main ideas. Also the teacher should make it comprehensible (acting, drawing, pointing, questioning). Give them a few specific things they are listening for before you start. I asked mine to figure out 1) what was put on the ofrenda? 2) what is the overall feeling of the Day of the Dead? 3) what is one thing you learned?

  6. This is so great!! My level 2 students are doing a festival this year as well, and I loved reading your ideas about how to teach DM. I cannot find your goal sheet- am I overlooking it? I would love to take a look at that! Muchísimas gracias :)

    • Yay! When I do my recap, let us know how your festival went. The goal sheet is on the and look for the Día de los muertos page. It is the first document. Send me an email if you still have problems finding it.

  7. Some things I’m doing for el día de los muertos:
    –level 2 is making 2-D calacas on colored paper
    –level 3 is making calaveras de azúcar. I have a plain skull mold and then Posada molds they choose from. We paint them with acrylics, so they can have them as a non-edible keepsake.
    –level 2 is making a half-size poster board ofrenda honoring a dead celebrity in groups. Aside from gathering images of traditional elements and elements specific to the celebrity, each group member has to contribute 2-3 sentences in Spanish to the elogio they will put on it.
    –level 3 is making individual ofrendas on paper plates of a friend, family member, or pet (unless a student is uncomfortable, then he/she can do a celebrity), with the same elements as level 2, but a more advanced elogio.
    –level 2 also has a class ofrenda table where students have to bring in a picture of or the actual item of a loved one. I will use the decorated calaveras and calacas (as well as some old papel picado I kept from level 1) to put on the table.

    Would you all like me to post my ofrendas’ project guidelines to the Wiki?

  8. LOVED the chumbulaca PowerPoint. I did it as a listening activity. Here’s how: I printed a class set of the slides (the 9 slides per page version) and cut out the individual slides. I had the students put the slides in order as I did the chant, then we checked over the answers by looking at the PowerPoint on the projector, as well as talked about what it meant. I think it was a hit! Thanks for the PowerPoint!

  9. I love these ideas!! I have my kids make a cuadro with a pic of someone they would like to honor for el dia de los muertos…it can be someone they know, a famous person, a pet, I have had some creative kids do things like their cell phone… they do it on construction paper and include velas, flores, the muerto’s favorites and a few sentences in the imperfect depending on level. Ej: Le gustaba comer pizza. Selena era muy bonita. Etc

  10. How did you organize your ofrenda scavenger hunt? I would like to do something like this before they make their own ofrendas.

    • I only showed pictures of real ofrendas. We did some quick “identifying” in Spanish. (Cuántas velas hay?, Hay comida?, etc) Sorry I’m just now getting back to you about this!

  11. Thank you so much! I also seem to change how to teach DM every year. This year I worked with this nice short film to introduce DM (not well-known to my French students) and with the song “Día de los Muertos” de La Pulquería with my Spanish II students.
    P.S.: I found your blog a couple of days ago and I can’t stop reading and writing down every single idea. You rock!

  12. My students are studying clothing. I was thinking of them creating a Catrina and then having to describe their Catrina to the class. Any suggestions

  13. Megan and Kara

    Thank you for all the ideas that you share for free on line. Thank you for the enthusiasm that you have for teaching foreign language and for infecting me with it. When i’m getting a little bogged down with the same old activities day in and day out, I can count on finding something on your site that inspires me to get our of my rut. I hope you enjoy the cup I sent you.

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