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Dia de los Muertos

Context for this Lesson


Dia de los Muertos(Day of the Dead)Celebration through exploration of the book Ghost Wings by Barbara M. Jooste Focus Questions:What is the Dia de los Muertos? How do we celebrate the memories of those we love?


Character Bag (Artifact) The teacher reveals a bag that contains an orange, a framed picture of a grandmother, a butterfly, and a sugar skull “I found this bag outside our classroom, and I have no idea who it belongs to. Could you help me out?” Invites students to help pull things out of the bag, one at a time. Invite students to describe what they see as each item is removed from the bag. Why do we think this person might choose to carry this bag around with them? Why might these items be important? Whose bag might this be? Why do we think this person has all these items with them?”


Procedure: Read Ghost Wings by Barbara M. Joose Reflectioni

Questions: Describe – What happened in the book? Who is the story about?

Analyze - Why did the little girl miss her Grandmother? What were some of the things that they did together? Why did she feel happy in the end of the book?

Relate – Can you think about a person that you love very much? What are some of your favorite things to do with that person?

Explore: Statues in your seat – variation of Group Emotions (DFS Handbook pg 111) This activity can take place with students standing in an open area or can also be adapted for students to do the emotion statues in their seats. “I’d like you all to take a moment to think about the story we read, Ghost Wings. In the book, the main character experienced many different emotions, or feelings. What are some of the emotions that we can remember from her story? (Brainstorm/write answers on the board – may include happy, sad, angry, scared, loved, frustrated, confused, excited, nervous… anything that the students can provide justification for.) Great, thanks for all these great ideas. In just a moment, we are going to get to practice our acting skills together by making some frozen statues of these emotions. Who knows what a statue is? That’s right, a statue is a frozen image that is completely still. Do statues make any noises? No, they don’t. So in just a moment, I’m going to ask you all to make some silent, frozen statues with your bodies that show me the emotion I call out with your bodies and your faces. (Maybe model this with either another student or a teacher- show how we make statues with our bodies/faces).

Processing Questions: What do you see these bodies doing? What do you notice about their faces? About their shoulders? About their hands? What do you think these statues might say if they came to life?

Transition: Great work, everyone, thanks for sharing all your statues. So as we think about all the emotions that our main character went through, who can remember what happened to her in the last part of the book? Right, she went to visit the butterfly garden and the butterflies helped her remember all the wonderful times that she spent with her grandmother. What were some of the things that the little girl in our book remembered about her grandmother?

Speaking Stone: Invite the group to sit in a large circle. Explain that we are going to take turns sharing some of our memories that we have about the things that we do with the people we love. For example – my mom doesn’t live here in Texas, but we I have a lot of fun memories from the times that I go visit her and we stay at home and watch movies together. What are some of the memories that you all have about the things you do with the people we love? I’ll give you all a moment to think about it – and then we’re going to pass around the speaking stone. When it’s your turn for the speaking stone, you will get a chance to share with the group one person that you love, and a happy memory that you have with that person. Any questions? Ok, who would like to start.

Transition: Well in just a moment, we are going to give each of you your very own Memory Butterfly. And on these butterflies, we’d like you to color some of your favorite memories that you’ve created with someone that you love - perhaps it’s a family member or loved one that you don’t get to see very often, or maybe it’s someone you saw just yesterday. For example, my mom lives far away from me, but came to visit last weekend, so on my butterfly, I might color a picture of us going to the movies together, which is something that we like to do when we’re together.


Coloring Memory Butterflies – Pass out butterflies and encourage students to color their happy memories they’ve shared with loved ones. Everyone’s butterflies look so great! I want everyone to put their markers away and place your butterfly face up at your spot on the table. I’ll know everyone is ready for the next instruction when they are standing quietly behind their chair. Now in just a moment we are going to turn our classroom into a museum so we can see the wonderful signs everyone has created. We are going to walk around slowly and look at all of our work. Some of the butterflies aren’t quite finished yet, and that’s okay. These are works-in-progress. Now there are two very important things to remember when we go to a museum – one is that it is silent! We do not need our voices to look at the art. The second important thing is that we cannot touch the art! So we keep our hands behind our backs, like this. Okay – does anyone have any questions? When you hear the chime, that means time to look is over and please come back to the circle. You may begin touring the museum now. After a few minutes, the teacher rings the chime so the children return to the carpet. Now who wants to raise their hand and tell me one thing they noticed about the pictures they saw?

Transition: Everyone did such a great job on their butterflies! These will be such nice pictures to keep as a reminder the happy memories we share with the people we love.