October has been a busy month, the 3rd and 4th graders have been doing a esqueletos skeletons fashion show, the 2nd graders calaveras, skulls and monstruos, monsters ,the k-1 have been dancing ” El baile del esqueleto” and pulling out things from my orange bag: calabazas,pumpkings, gatos negros, black cats, murciélagos, bats, monstruos , monsters arañas, spiders, brujas witches….
We have been learning about “El dia de los muertos” we have read four wonderful and inspirational books about this tradition :
Calavera abecedario in K/1,skeletons that come to life and dance across the pages in colorful costumes. We have enjoyed this unusual alphabet book inspired by a Mexican family of artists and the colorful traditions surrounding the Days of the Dead. Another book is The Day of the Dead/ El Dia de los Muertos: We followed two children as they celebrate their ancestors on this vibrant holiday. They offer marigolds, sugar skulls, and special bread, and make delicious foods. By spreading marigold petals, they guide the dead home to join the festivities. Finally, after singing and dancing, it’s time for bed. Bob Barner’s luscious collages incorporate the traditional symbols of Day of the Dead. His poetic text is both English and Spanish.
Maria Molina and the Day of the dead in second grade: Maria’s infant brother and her grandmother have died in the last year, and the girl and her family honor them during the Days of the Dead celebration. As her mother explains the various Mexican customs involved, the learners, too, learn about them. Comparison to Halloween is smoothly woven into the narrative. After it is over, Maria’s parents move north to the U.S., later the children also move and the family is reunited again. Krull, the author does an excellent job of showing how a family can leave its homeland and carry their culture with them while accepting their new land. She describes the traditional foods and concludes with additional facts about los Dias de Muertos and a recipe for “Bread of the Dead.” Sanchez’s illustrations, done in earth tones, capture the flavor of the celebration. While skeletons appear in many of the pictures, children will not be frightened, as others show the fun people have during this period. This book is a wonderful choice to introduce children to a custom with which they are not familiar, and a reassuring story for those who are trying to keep old traditions in a new country.
Pablo remembers in 3/4:The Fiesta of the Day of the Dead is an excellent children’s picture book to use to introduce the Day of the Dead to children in class. Through full-page and small color photographs, accompanied by text, photojournalist George Ancona tells the story of how one family honors deceased relatives by observing the Day of the Dead in their village in Oaxaca ,Mexico.
El Día de los Muertos:
El Dia de los Muertos is a traditional Meso-American holiday dedicated to the ancestors; it honors both death and the cycle of life. In Mexico, neighbors gather in local cemeteries to share food, music, and fun with their extended community, both living and departed. The celebration acknowledges that we still have a relationship with our ancestors and loved ones that have passed away. El Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico by decorating shop windows, cleaning and decorating the cemetery, creating special fantastic flower wreaths, making small and large toys and figurines featuring the famouscalaveras (skulls and skeletons sometimes accompanied by verses), and by installing tianguis (special temporary markets) to sell the necessary items for the ofrendas. Zenpasuchitl, a type of marigold, is the traditional flower of the occasion and altars are often covered with the bright orange petals. The baker, confectioner, cook, florist and artist are essential to the Days of the Dead.
In joyful celebration of the continuity of life, Mexicans observe el Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, each November 1 and 2. It is believed that on this holiday the spirits of loved ones visit Earth. Families prepare for and encourage this visit by cleaning the graves and then decorating ofrendas, or altars, at the graves of their deceased. Some families also have altars,ofrenda in their home. They cover the ofrendas with marigolds, papel picado, memorabilia, photos, candles, and the favorite foods and beverages of the deceased. Some families spend the whole night at the cemetery, happily and lovingly remembering and honoring the lives of the dead.
We have one altar setting in room 22 . The 3rd and 4th graders have a “calavera fashion show” they have put clothes on calaveras making them fancy and fun . Here is a list of the clothes that they have used to dress the calaveras: sombrero– hat, camisa-shirt, bufanda-scarff, chaqueta-jacket, abrigo-coat, vestido– dress, falda-skirt, pantalon-pants, pantalón corto-shorts, calcetines-socks, zapatos-shoes, botas-boots, cinturón-belt, guantes– gloves chaleco– vest. The second graders have been doing skulls and we have reviewed the parts of the face: ojos eyes, nariz, nose, boca, mouth, dientes teeth
This week we will eat “Pan de Muertos” the typical bread that the families in Mexico eat on “El Dia de los Muertos” you are very welcome to stop in room 22 for a moment, visit our altar and see what your children have done… if you can´t I hope you will enjoy the pictures!
Feliz Halloween y Día de Los Muertos!!