The Consortium’s Outreach Program offers several exhibits and culture boxes that are available for teachers to borrow.
Day of the Dead Exhibits
During the Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, families pay respect to their departed loved ones, whose spirits are believed to return on this day. Offerings of marigolds, candles, sugar skulls, fruit, and pan de muerto are placed on an alter around the deceased’s grave. Families may also put photographs and their loved one’s favorite food on the alter. The day is spent eating, drinking, and celebrating those who have passed. The Day of the Dead is held November 1, but alters may be constructed and visited before or after, typically between October 28 and November 4.
The alter above was created by Spanish I and II students at Riverside High School in Durham, North Carolina. The alters below were created by Spanish students at SandHoke Early College High School in Raeford (left) and ESL students at E.K. Powe Elementary in Durham (right).
Day of the Dead Curriculum Materials
Sharon Mújica, former director of the UNC-Duke Consortium’s Outreach Program, created a number of materials which are available through the Learn NC site. You can read about Ms. Mújica’s reflections on this holiday in this article from the Daily Tar Heel.
The Mexican Day of the Dead: Learn about El Día de los Muertos as it is celebrated in Mexico and the history behind this important holiday.
Classroom Activity: Making an Altar for the Day of the Dead: Engage with your students (K-12) to create a traditional alter.
Recipe: Pan de Muerto (All Souls’ Bread): Share a piece of traditional “Bread of the Dead” with your students.
Day of the Dead Slideshow: See pictures of the Day of the Dead traditions in Mexico.
Days of the Dead (Powerpoint presentation): Explain the history, traditions, and modern celebrations of the Days of the Dead in Mexico with this PowerPoint Presentation containing colorful pictures and text.
How do the Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula clean their pots and pans? What clothes do Mixtec women wear? Do Zapotec children play the same kinds of games as children from the U.S.?
Students can explore these questions and others by using one of our culture boxes. Each box contains items from Mesoamerican cultures that are commonly used in everyday life, along with brief descriptions about the use or meaning of each item. Students are encouraged to guess what each item represents and what it is used for.
Available Culture Boxes: