This year my students have completed or are in the process of completing three lessons I found on Pinterest for Day of the Dead. Two of these lessons I’ve never done before and one I’ve tried before and I learned a lot the first time around. I have linked the pins to the bottom of this article.
The skeleton cursive collage that I did with my fourth and fifth grade students is a bit challenging. This is my second time doing it, and I’ve learned a lot in the process. First of all, this lesson includes the kids writing their name in cursive on a sheet of paper, folded in half, cutting it out, and using that for the skeletons body. The first time I did this lesson about six years ago, I realized students didn’t know how to write their name in cursive. Unfortunately, I realized this way too late because we are already starting the lesson. This time￼￼ around I asked my students if they knew how to write their name in cursive and then I let their teachers know as a homework assignment that they need to work on writing their names in cursive. Most of my students were able to write their names in cursive, however those who couldn’t get it I wrote their names on the board for them to copy. This prevented me from having to write everybody’s name in cursive for them. I also drew on the board an example of a skull for the kids to copy because I learned the kids don’t know how to draw skulls.
This lesson took five weeks to complete. The first week we traced our hands and drew skulls. I also showed them a PowerPoint on the Mexican artist Jose Posada. The second week the students drew their names in cursive and cut out the skeleton. The third week we glued everything down and begin adding color with collage materials and markers. Fourth and fifth weeks students used scrap paper and other collage materials to have 3-D components that pop out.
Overall the skeletons were a positive experience for the students. Most of them had a successful skeleton. I graded most of the collages with high scores. I also had students assess their own work using the rubric. I find that offering them the rubric close towards the end of their project gives them an opportunity to see where they are and how they can improve on their project.￼￼
First second and third grade created Day of the Dead booklets that I found on Pinterest. I had the students review a PowerPoint about Day of the Dead and then they had to complete a writing prompt of their choosing inside the booklet.￼
After they completed the writing prompt students decorated the skull. Then they had to draw a picture that illustrated their writing. This is a pretty simple project however it did take three weeks. Some students got the writing over with very quickly and some students struggled. I found students who struggled with the writing took longer with the project and those who knew what they wanted to write about immediately after beginning the project.
Lastly, I did a marigold still life with my kindergartners and first graders. This project taught them about symmetry, folding and cutting out a symmetrical shape, drawing flowers realistically, and of course Day of the Dead.￼￼￼ This was a pretty simple assignment: the most that the student struggled with were the vases and cutting them out symmetrically. We used large sheets of construction paper for the background, and oil pastels to decorate. I taught them how to blend with the oil pastels to create the marigolds. These came out so pretty and I was very pleased with them overall. Several of the marigold still lives were hung up in our local opera house as part of an exhibit with the school district.￼￼￼
Day of the Dead Cursive Collages: https://pin.it/lvty5idyrw2ncl
Skull Booklets: https://pin.it/obi3qffbod2ou6
Marigold Still Life: https://pin.it/2y64t3tf44ohkr