Día de los Muertos: A Round-up for Teachers

by | Oct 28, 2016

Inside: Day of the dead activities, crafts, videos, and lesson plans for the Spanish classroom.


After the insane box-office numbers of Pixar’s Coco, celebrating Día de muertos in Spanish class is twice as relevant and meaningful. Though not celebrated in every Spanish-speaking location, Day of the Dead has deep roots in many parts of Latin America, and especially in parts of Mexico.

As a new Spanish teacher, I used to be unsure of how to treat holidays. I wanted to include culture, but teaching low-frequency words like “marigold,” “candle,” or “skeleton” seemed a poor use of time. Now I’m discovering part of the reason comprehensible input is magic: I can use any theme or topic to give my students whole, living language.

Thankfully, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are TONS of resources out there, in Spanish and English, and these are my favorites! Below you can browse my giant collection for Día de muertos, and of course let me know what I’m missing.

Day of the Dead Activities & Ideas

Day of the Dead Lesson Ideas


    • Pre-teach key unfamiliar vocabulary. Infographics or videos are a nice way to introduce words like calavera, vela, etc. 

    • Choose a short film for a MovieTalk. (You can find my favorites embedded below). If you teach various levels, make it easy on yourself by choosing one film to use for all the classes and adjusting the language for each group.

    • Create a story with your class, using Day of the Dead as a theme. Remember that you don’t have to come up with a story from scratch. You can always choose an authentic story like the one below, and re-tell it to your class in simplified language. 

  • Create an ofrenda with your students (see how other teachers have done Day of the Dead ofrendas with their students). 
  • Watch Coco on Netflix (or buy the DVD). 

There are some great free and paid resources on TpT to go with Coco. I loved this free Coco PPT from Arianne Dowd, and this EdPuzzle

  • Watch the Book of Life.

For the Book of Life, you can use: A basic guide with questions from Kara Jacobs, and a free guide for novices from Mis Clases Locas.

Google Arts and Culture


Google Arts and Culture has some amazing resources as well, for exploring Day of the Dead. I really like the video that introduces the holiday with vivid images, and there’s even an interactive altar!



There are lots of infographics, songs, and video clips you can throw use for Day of the Dead. These are fun to to prompt discussion and give the students a chance to see what they can understand from an authentic resource.

 Credit: Xoximilco blog

Credit: Enter to the Matrix

Image Credit: El Comercio

Visit my Día de Muertos page on Pinterest to find lots more Día de muertos realia!

Crafts and Printables

Free printable for papel picado from Live Colorful. 

Calaca Finger Puppets from Calico Spanish 

Easy Day of the Dead Crafts from Spanish Playground

Free color-by-number Calaveras from Spanish Playground

Sugar-Skull Your Seflie (for Teens) from Crafty Chica

Mini-Altars in a Jar (Image source: Creative Commons Licensed (BY-NC-ND) Flickr photo by Jessica Wilson

Stone Sugar Skulls from Alisa Burke

Día de Muertos Coloring Pages from Rockalingua

Shoebox Altar from Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes

Songs for Day of the Dead


Here are two songs that work for different levels. You can also see my post on Day of the Dead songs, with more options!


Calaverita – La Santa Cecilia 

This song would work well for older students. And check out these amazing resources from Kara Jacobs and Elena Lopez for La Santa Cecilia!


Los esqueletos

This could work for younger students as well. 



Short Films for Day of the Dead

These would make great MovieTalks for a Día de los muertos. You narrate the stories in language the students understand, discuss, possibly type up a reading, and voila!– you have a high-interest, language-packed activity in story-form.

Día de Los Muertos 

I was already planning on using this sweet short film when I came across some amazing resources from Williamson CI & TPRS for doing a MovieTalk. Click here to access a PPT with text and screenshots, activities, and online games. There are also great embedded readings on customs in various countries as well. This is my favorite resource I’ve come across so far, and it’s free!

Another FANTASTIC resource is from Elena Lopez, who put together more resources for “La niña recuerda.


Día de Muertos

Elena Lopez has wonderful resources for this one, too, complete with questions, textivate activities, Kahoot, and more


Dante’s Lunch

Again, Elena Lopz to the rescue with tons of comprehensible free activities for “La Cena de Dante.”

Authentic Videos for Día de Muertos 



More informational videos in Spanish:





Papel picado:


Flores de Cempasuchil:


Cómo hacer una Catrina:


Day of the Dead Makeup:


Like it? Pin it!

Day of the Dead Activities



Hey! I’m Elisabeth, a teacher and mom raising two bilingual kids in the Peruvian jungle. Read our story here. I love digging up the best Spanish resources for all you busy parents and teachers!

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