9 Easy Day of the Dead Activities to Learn Culture and Spanish 🦋🕯️🏵️

My face 😠 when Aidan said to me, “Day of the Dead is like Halloween” after being at his babysitter’s. That’s one reason why I do Day of the Dead activities in my Spanish classes each year. I want to make sure kids learn about other cultural traditions and know that Day of the Dead is NOT the same thing as Halloween.

So many people have posted amazing activities, so I decided not to reinvent the wheel. I have links to music, crafts, recipes, and more cultural information from some amazing bloggers, so you can look through and choose what you and your kids would like to do.

I also wrote a non-fiction Spanish/English book for beginners about El Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) and a short story based on my favorite video about El Día de los Muertos. They both have reading activities so you can practice commonly used Spanish words too.

Normally my lessons build on one another, but this is a stand alone lesson. If you haven’t done any other lessons and don’t know Spanish yet, skip the short story but still watch the video. It does an amazing job of showing what El Día de los Muertos is about. If you want to start teaching your kids Spanish, check out my Start Here page.

pictures of day of the dead activities for kids

Day of the Dead Activities

I haven’t included a schedule because these don’t need to be done in any order, and unless you have a ton of extra time, I doubt you’ll want to do everything on this list.

front cover of non-fiction bilingual day of the dead book
This is the cover for my non-fiction Spanish and English book about the Day of the Dead.

Non-fiction Book and Short Story

You can download the book and the short story below. They have instructions in the document and reading activities. I also have a video of me reading the Spanish part of the non-fiction book as well.

2. Video: Read Aloud for Día de los Muertos Book

4. Video: Día de los Muertos

Aidan and I read the non-fiction book together, and then we talked for a couple of minutes about the differences between how we view death in the United States and how death is viewed in Mexico. I do wish death wasn’t such a taboo topic in the US. I think it makes death more scary when we don’t talk about it. I think a tradition where we can remember loved ones who have died is a beautiful tradition.

non-fiction spanish and english book about Day of the Dead
This is the inside of my non-fiction book about the Day of the Dead.

Arts and Crafts

Aidan and I have done three of the crafts so far. I’m not sure if we’ll do any more. I’m not really a crafty person (mostly because I hate messes 😂), so we’ve limited it to the puppet skeleton, the sugar skull rocks, and the luminary.

This template for the puppet skeleton is super cute. Not gonna lie, I kind of hated cutting it out, but it was worth it.   

My Day of the Dead skeleton “puppet” from the RedTedArt template. And, yeah, I skipped the last step. After I finished cutting it out, I decided it didn’t need to be a puppet. 😄

Also, from RedTedArt is this template for a Day of the Dead luminary (or lantern). This was my favorite because it took me 5 minutes from start to finish including coloring it with markers and no mess. 💯 And, it looks cool!

day of the dead paper lantern
This is my lantern from RedTedArt’s template. I did not do an awesome job coloring it. jajaja

If you like doing crafts with your kids, she has some crazy cute things on her blog (mini 5 minute ghost piñatas!) and over 1000 videos on YouTube.

Aidan and I also made sugar skull rocks with puffy paint. These were cute and fun!

These are Aidan’s and my sugar skull rocks from Color Made Happy’s instructions.

Color Made Happy also has these instructions for sugar skull rocks with paint pens.

I printed up some coloring sheets for us, but we haven’t done them yet. Here are some sites with coloring pages and masks from Spanish Mama.

Music

Spanish Mama also has a roundup of El Día de los Muertos songs. A colleague of mine and I sing the Tumbas por aquí song with our students. It’s a Halloween song but fun to sing with! And a great way to practice some of the vowel sounds in Spanish.

Cultural Information

All of these resources are in English.

This video talks about how to make sugar skulls and includes a clip about how they are traditionally made in Mexico.

This is a short video showing how you can make sugar skulls at home, and the chef talks about the cultural importance of sugar skulls.

This video shows how to make papel picado while talking about the history and cultural importance of papel picado. I really enjoyed listening to her talk about how papel picado is used in her hometown in Mexico and how much it means to her.

This National Geographic for Kids article was also very interesting!

My favorite ways to learn about something is from people’s experiences and this article talks about how the author celebrated El Día de los Muertos in Guatemala.

She also has an article about traditional Day of the Dead recipes.

I hope you have fun doing these activities with your kids while learning more about El Día de los Muertos and practicing some Spanish! Choosing a craft to do and reading the non-fiction book are great places to start!

Did you do these Day of the Dead activities or know anyone who would want to do them? Please share with the buttons on the left!

Which was your favorite activity? Tell me about it in the comments below!

day of the dead skeleton with marigolds
My skeleton with the marigolds on its head.

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