Buenos Dias. We are excited that you have visited us today to see our stop on the Dia de los Muertos Tour. This is a holiday that I experienced as a bystander while growing up in Los Angeles, and yet I knew very little about it. I remember taking walks down Olvera Street, seeing and smelling the vibrant colors of the Mexican culture, and finding joy in the music and people. I was very fortunate as a child to be exposed to many different cultures and their traditions. Dia de los Muertos quickly became one of my favorite holidays. I love the fact that this holiday celebrates life and our ancestors! While it is not part of my family traditions or religion to celebrate this holiday, it is very important to me that my children learn about it and appreciate the beautiful message that it shares. To further expose my children to this rich culture I created a simple lesson plan with history, crafts, and treats. Today I want to share with you the resources that I used to create my lesson and provide instructions so you can replicate one the crafts we made. I hope you enjoy this festive holiday, are inspired by the tour, and enjoy Dia de los Muertos either for the first time or as part of your family traditions.
To set the mood for our lesson we made Calavera Mason Jars. During the lesson I used the mason jars as a visual aid. First we talked about the history of Dia de los Muertos. We learned about its’ Aztec origins and the combination of those traditions and the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. I used the Calavera images on the jars to explain how this holiday celebrates death as a part of life and our ancestors as souls to be remembered in death. Then we cut the heads off of golden Mums, because marigold do not like the cold weather of the north, and filled the mason jars with them. We talked about the Marigold flower and how it is traditionally used during this holiday not only to decorate graves but to guide the spirits of the dead back to their homes with its’ vibrant color and scent.
Then we talked about how Dia de los Muertos is a celebration that lasts for two days – Beginning on November 1st the children are remembered and honored, Dia de Inocentes. Then on November 2nd, the adults, Dia de los Muertos. To have fun and to explain that the holiday takes place all day and night for these days, we then turned our mason jars into water lanterns. That night we filled the mason jars with water and the insides of a few cut up glow sticks. They looked so pretty and inviting on our front porch, but the glow did not last as long as I had hoped. My daughter mentioned that they, like the Marigolds, are leading the way to our home. These Calavera Mason Jars were the perfect visual aid and vessel to help me introduce this rich holiday to my children.
Calavera Mason Jars
Black Sharpe Marker (I used both a fine point and a paint marker)
A Calavera image as inspiration & the memories of an ancestor
Marigolds (of golden mums if not available)
Glow Sticks (the large ones worked best)
This is a very simple project. All you need to do is draw an outline of a face onto the mason jar with the sharpie marker. I began with the fine point marker and then used the paint marker to darken lines and add details. If art is not your strong point you can print out an image of a calavera and tap it the inside of the jar and then trace over it on the glass.
Once you have the outline drawn you can fill in the mask with flowers, shapes, and images that remind you of your ancestor. For one of our jars we took inspiration from my niece Candace whom died shortly after birth. Her siblings, young at the time, found comfort in thinking of her as a butterfly. Her time in her mother’s womb was her life as a caterpillar. Her small sweet body, was her cocoon, and she is now a beautiful butterfly that has found her way home. To honor her we drew butterflies and flowers on her mask.
Because we are using a Sharpie marker your image will remain on the outside of the mason jar until you either firmly wipe it away or apply water to it. If you have multiple color Sharpies you can color in all the details for a bright and beautiful image. I left mine in until I we were done with the lesson so that it would be easy for the kids to see. Then I colored it in with vibrant colors that make me happy.
We plan to purchase some tea candles to place inside our Calavera Mason Jars for the two days of Dias de los Muertos. This will give our family a chance to remember the things we learned about this celebration and hopefully, and perhaps more importantly- recall it’s message of remembrance of your ancestors and to find joy in all facets of life, which includes mortal death.
I hope that you have learned something from the lesson that we created for our family, I know we did. I have included the links to websites, blogs, recipes and the videos that I found to be educational and fun. Do not forget to check out the rest of the stops on this years tour. There are great projects, more information, prizes and family stories, that will be shared!
Ohoh Blog: Free Calaveras Printables
Meet the bloggers who are joining the 2nd Dia de los Muertos tour. They will be bringing you a variety of inspired crafts, stories and a few freebies. Here is the full schedule if you missed a day.
Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter. There will be a small giveaway for a copy of the DVD “The Book of Life” and a copy of the book “Rosita y Conchita
” by Erich Haeger and Eric Gonzalez. They are not affiliated with this website or giveaway.
Due to the nature of the giveaway, the book and DVD will only be available to residents of the United States and Canada. There will be a separate giveaway for any digital items such as PDF patterns or gift cards.