Lesson Topic/Subject: El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Grade: Fifth
Teacher: Holly McCarty
Time:
45 minutes


Objectives:

  1. Students will describe ways in which people in the United States remember and honor the dead. Knowledge.
  2. After hearing the story Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead, students will identify the similarities and differences between El Dia de los Muertos , Memorial Day and Halloween by completing a chart in cooperative groups. Analysis.

Materials:

  1. World Map or map of Mexico
  2. book Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead
  3. chart for students to organize their comparisons

Procedures:

  1. Ask students how people in America remember their loved ones who have passed away. Encourage students to think of some characteristics of American customs associated with remembering the dead.(Example: Memorial Day) List student responses on the chalk board.
  2. Explain to students that the ways in which people bury and remember their dead say much about the peoples’ beliefs, culture, and customs. Different societies deal with death in many different ways. Explain to the students that they are going to hear a story about a family from Mexico and a special way in which they remember their dead.
  3. Ask students to point out Mexico on the world map.
  4. Read the book Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead. Give students a brief introduction to the story before you read. Explain to the students what El Dia de los Muertos festival is. Write the name on the board for students to see.
  5. As a motivation for the story, ask each student to be thinking of the questions: How do Maria’s experiences in Mexico with El Dia de los Muertos differ from her experiences with Halloween? How does the way Maria’s family honor their dead differ from the way the American culture honors their dead? Point out critical attributes of El Dia de los Muertos as you read. Show illustrations to students as you read. Clarify Spanish vocabulary used in the story.
  6. When finished with story, hand out one chart worksheet to groups of four students. Allow the students ten minutes to work with their group to fill out their chart highlighting the similarities and differences between El Dia de los Muertos , Halloween, and Memorial Day. Encourage the students to be thinking of the meaning of each holiday as they fill out the chart.
  7. Have students share their comparisons with the class. As students provide their comparisons, fill out a large class chart on the chalkboard. Discuss the students’ comparisons. Emphasize to the students that although Halloween and the El Dia de los Muertos festival occur at the same time of the year, they are actually very different holidays with very different purposes. They might be alike in terms of food and visual images, but not in meaning. Explain to students that although celebrated in many different ways, El Dia de los Muertos is most like our Memorial Day in meaning.

Evaluation of Student Learning:

  1. Were students able to describe ways in which people of the United States remember their dead?
  2. After hearing the story Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead, were the students able to identify the similarities and differences between El Dia de los Muertos , Halloween, and Memorial Day by cooperatively filling out the chart provided in groups?

Reflection:

  1. Did I introduce the lesson in an engaging manner?
  2. Did I encourage the students to be reflective on their own culture as they learned about El Dia de los Muertos ?
  3. Were the students engaged in the story Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead?
  4. Was the story an effective means of introducing the concept of the festival?
  5. Was the comparison chart an effective motivation for students to listen attentively to the story?
  6. Did I encourage students to be critical thinkers, or did I provide the students all the information?
  7. Was I able to adapt the discussion to the students’ questions and understanding?
  8. Overall , how did the lesson go?

Sources:


Return to the "El Dia de los Muertos" page
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