Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dia de los Muertos.

Been to World Market lately?  Or how 'bout Pinterest?  Dia de los Muertos and skeleton images are everywhere.  I love Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead as we call it here in the states. This traditional Mexican holiday is a celebration taking place October 31, November 1, and November 2.  The holiday focuses on families gathering together to remember loved ones who have passed away.  Celebrations involve music, costumes, ofrendas or private altars, calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls), marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed as gifts left on graves.  I think the holiday is such a neat idea and a wonderful way to remember those who have passed away.

I have a large population of students in my building who are enrolled in the district's dual language program.  Many of the students have familial connections to Mexico and still celebrate Dia de los Muertos here.  When I started my Art position a few years ago, I was so excited to learn more about this celebration as there are many inspiring art connections.

Here a few examples of projects and the texts I have used:

1) Marigolds of Dia de los Muertos with 2nd Grade

I read aloud Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead by Kathleen Krull.  Students and I analyzed each illustration of this wonderful text looking at the symbols of Dia de los Muertos.  I also brought in some marigolds in a pot and added a spotlight next to it, so that we could study the lights and darks created by the light.  Here are some of the 2nd graders' marvelous marigolds.  I LOVED this project and so did the kids.  But, be prepared for a whole lot of chalk EVERYWHERE.  Seriously, I was finding chalk remnants around my room for weeks afterwards.

In case you were wondering, YES, this is what a tired art teacher looks like at the day's end.
Lucky for you, I made a pit stop at the bathroom to remove the purple paint from my face pre-picture.  Don't ask.

 2) Calaveras de azúcar with 4th Grade

My 4th graders created these from clay.  We used acrylics and modge podge instead of glaze so that students could paint in details successfully.  Final gemstones were added for a bedazzled effect.

3) Calacas with 3rd Grade

Calacas are the skeleton images seen frequently during Dia de los Muertos, often on the skeleton puppets sold at the local markets.  We read Clatter Bash: A Day of the Dead Celebration.  Students practiced drawing a skeleton step by step while following a guided drawing of mine on the Promethean Board.  This lesson is a great tie-in with the PE teachers who do a unit on bones in our body at this time too!  After lots of practice, the next class students painted their skeleton pieces step by step using only black paint.  At our third art session, students cut out each piece, hole punched the pieces, and assembled them using brass fasteners.  I've done this project a few years in a row and always love how much personality each skellie has.


4) La Calavera Catrina with 5th Grade

The text used for this lesson is Day of the Dead by Linda Lowery.  This text is more of a factual description of the Mexican celebration.  For this particular project, we also studied the history behind "La Calavera Catrina," a skeletal woman made popular by the artist Jose Guadalupe Posada.  I put together a flipchart showing images of Catrina in works such as those by Diego Rivera.

This is just a portion of the mural Diego Rivera painted, which measures about 15 meters long.

The 5th graders used all recycled objects to create their own Calavera Catrina Dolls.

Dancing Catrina Dolls

Feliz día de los muertos to all and to all a good night!