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Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos Calaveras Masks

October 30, 2017




Author: Zachary Baggett Year: 2017
Artform: Visual Art Grade: 2-3

Duration: 45 Min sessions


Images of Day  of the Dead Celebrations

Images of Candy Skull Decorations

Scissors for each student

1 Paper Plate for each student

Glue Sticks


Optional, but useful, giant hole punch with shape for eye sockets. Stampin up is the brand of punch I use in the video


Display images of day of the dead festival. Ask a student if they know what celebration this pictures. Often students will say Halloween, however every class I have done this project with also had students who know about day of the dead. I organize these students together and have them discuss as tables the differences and similarities of Day of the Dead to Halloween. Peer to peer teaching in small groups. While they discuss I hand out supplies. 


Before beginning demonstration, recap key aspects of day of the dead celebrations, like paying tribute to lost loved ones, and providing offerings and that it is a day of memory and celebration. 


 The original idea for this artwork was adapted from this blog post: http://scrumdillydo.blogspot.com/2010_10_01_archive.html


It has images and instructions that you may also find helpful. 


Make sure to emphasize symmetry in pattern making on the skulls, also emphasize the types of patterns and symbols that are being used, like dotted line patterns, flowers, swirls, mustaches etc. 

Help students between each step. Teacher should do hole punch as the students frequently make a mistake and ask to restart from the beginning. I also like to turn on mariachi music during the student work time.

Have students share their thoughts and new things they learned about the cultures and traditions of people in their own class, similarities and differences. 



Grade 2 

Standard 2.V.CR.4: Repurpose objects to make something new.


Students will relate artistic skills, ideas, and work with personal meaning and external context (Standards 2.V.CO.1–2).Standard 2.V.CO.1: Create works of art about events in home, school, or community life.Standard 2.V.CO.2: Compare and contrast cultural uses of artwork from different times and places.


Grade 3 

Students will understand, evaluate, and articulate how works of art convey meaning for the observer as well as the creator (Standards 3.V.R.1–3).

Standard 3.V.R.1: 
Contemplate about the processes an artist uses to create a work of art, and determine messages communicated by an image.

Standard 3.V.P.3: Identify and explain how and where different cultures record and illustrate stories and history of life through art.


Grade 2

Social Studies Standard 2 





Grade 3 

  1. Explain the various cultural heritages within their community. 

  2. Explain ways people respect and pass on their traditions and customs. 

  3. Give examples of how families in the community borrow customs or traditions from other cultures. 

Objective 2 
Recognize and describe the contributions of different cultural groups in Utah and the nation.

  1. Identify various cultural groups within the state and the nation. 

  2. Describe contributions of cultural groups to our state and nation. 

  3. Explain ways American Indians and immigrants have shaped both Utah's and America's culture (e.g., names of places, food, customs, celebrations). 

  4. Compare and contrast elements of two or more cultures within the state and nation (e.g., language, food, clothing, shelter, traditions, and celebrations). 


Grade 3

Social Studies Standard 2

Students will understand cultural factors that shape a community.

Objective 1 Evaluate key factors that determine how a community develops.Identify the elements of culture (e.g. language, religion, customs, artistic expression, systems of exchange). Describe how stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture. Compare elements of the local community with communities from different parts of the world

Students will explore familiar themes through observing the celebrations of various groups and in attempting to replicate the patterns and designs used specifically in Day of the Dead celebrations. 



Share images, video, music and or stories about Day of the Dead. Compare/contrast with Halloween traditions. 

How do people create artwork to express their cultures? 

How are Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations different/similar?

How are traditions from people around the world different/similar?

Several teaching strategies are used including:
Oral Lecture with visual imagery
Live demonstration
Active Participation by students
Individualized instruction





Candy Skull



Informal observation of project creation and by listening to student dialogue about Day of the Dead celebrations

Include other aspects of day of the dead, such as music, or dance. 

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