Anyhow, I was very excited to teach the munchkins a little bit about Día de los Muertos this year. I have celebrated it in past when I worked in a bilingual preschool and the holiday was one that all the children were already familiar with. So, this was my first time actually teaching children about this holiday that they really did not have any experience with.
The book that I read to introduce the children to this holiday was called Día de los Muertos, written by Roseanne Greenfield Thing and Carlos Ballesteros. It was a great book for the children to learn about the holiday!
The book focuses on different aspects, symbols and traditions that families partake in during this celebration. And it portrays the celebratory aspect of the holiday, stating that it is not a scary holiday, like Halloween. The holiday is not one of sadness either, but rather one of joy and celebration.
I will admit, this particular holiday is not one that I celebrated regularly as I was growing up with the traditions and so forth...until my father passed away 6 years ago. Now I use this holiday (and every day, really) as a way to remember him and talk about him with my children, especially my daughter who never got the chance to know him, as he passed away when she was only 3 months old.
So, in explaining about the holiday and the altars that are built in memory of deceased loved ones, I created a small altar, in my classroom, for my father. I brought in some of his items and explained why I brought each one and how each item reminded me of him. I did get a zillion questions about him (and of death and dying in general); which I was prepared to address in simple terms.
Each child had to opportunity to create their own calavera art to take home...and wow! I was impressed by some of the coloring skills!
We made tissue paper flowers in memory of someone who has past away. (I was touched when some kids left their flower at my father's altar.) These were the easiest tissue paper/napkin flowers to make. All we needed was small paper napkins in different colors, green pipe cleaners and scissors.
They cut long slits into the edges of a napkin, then opened it up, gathered it up, twisted the bottom and attached a pipe cleaner! Easy and quick!
(Take a closer look at the ones on the table for the end result)
For the most part, teaching about this holiday was either hit or miss with the children, which is what I expected. Some understood it, while others really had no clue and were fixated on the fact that skeletons and skulls are scary. But I expected that, too...
I had fun teaching them a little about this holiday that is celebrated in most Latin American countries, in honor of those loved ones who have passed on.
It was a great way, too, for me to share and honor my father's memory...he was a great man!