Kaleigh Baker, OFLA Executive Vice-President
Spanish Teacher, Butler High School
With so many schools making the decision to go remote or hybrid last year, many schools that decided to go in-person were very limited in the activities that they could do. In many Spanish classes, that included limitations celebrating and learning about the Day of the Dead.
If you are not familiar, Day of the Dead (or Día de los muertos), in summation, is a celebration of life through the building of altars, the decorating of tombstones/cemeteries, and remembering those that are no longer with us. In our classes, we should scaffold activities to allow both the activities and the information to progress with each level.
In Spanish 1 at my school, we do an introductory PowerPoint about Day of the Dead with a guided notes sheet. Students then get to make their own papel picado (punched paper – kind of like how we make paper snowflakes), we watch The Book of Life, and students have the option of making the bread of the dead (pan de los muertos) for extra credit.
In Spanish 2, we discuss the sugar skulls (calaveras de azúcar) and students compete in groups to make the best one out of baked goods and candy. We make the traditional marigold flowers out of tissue paper and pipe cleaners and watch Coco.
In Spanish 3, we look at an infographic comparing Day of the Dead to Halloween and students create an altar for how they would want to be remembered and bring in their favorite food while we share about ourselves.
In Spanish 4, we watch a short video about a little skeleton child who finds himself at a Halloween party and do a movie talk through it. Then we learn about La Catrina and José Guadalupe Posada and students write their own poems.
There are many facets to the Day of the Dead celebration, and we like to touch on it each year. We have fun by making crafts and watching movies and letting students share about themselves while practicing their Spanish at the same time. It is one of the favorite times of year for students as they grow a little in their cultural knowledge.