I’m in Mexico right now making educational videos. Everywhere there are signs that Día de los Muertos will be here soon! Flower stands have cempasuchíl and bakeries are advertising pan de muerto. I have just read Las mariposas vienen de visita, the new Día de los Muertos story from Voces Digital, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Día de los Muertos Reader
Las mariposas vienen de visita takes place in Michoacán in the days before Día de los Muertos. María Elena’s grandmother is making pan de muertos and getting ready for the traditional celebration, but Maria Elena misses her parents. They work in the United States and have not returned to visit her for years. She is also thinking about the monarch butterflies who have not yet arrived on their annual migration.
In addition to presenting Día de los Muertos with important context, this story deals with the timely topics of immigration and the environment. It also features a young protagonist who experiences emotions familiar to many students.
The book is available at two levels, both with comprehensible language supported by color illustrations and a glossary. Level 1 is in the present tense, while Level 2 includes a variety of tenses.
You can find Las mariposas vienen de visita on the Voces Digital website. The publisher includes a video of a teacher reading the story and asking the embedded questions that gives a good idea of how to use the book with a group.
Teacher Edition of Día de los Muertos Story
I have to say, I love that they designed a teacher edition for class read-aloud. I prepare stories I’m going to read to a class, but I have never been good at reading upside-down or to the side!
With this edition, the pages are double-sided. In addition, there are questions on the teacher side so it’s easy to read the story and engage students. The large edition is also great for pointing to the illustrations as you read.
Content and Culture
Here in Guanajuato, Gto., we’re filming educational videos in the beautiful gardens of Casa Museo Gene Byron. On Friday, we spotted several monarchs butterflies on their journey south! One of the actors commented on how difficult it is for the monarchs because their food source is disappearing.
I’ve also had several conversations with friends here about Día de los Muertos. Their perception is that although it is becoming popular in the U.S., there isn’t an understanding of the significance of the celebration.
If you’re discussing Día de los Muertos in class, these Day of the Dead video listening activities are a great addition to a lesson. The video is a short conversation about making an altar and emphasizes the significance of the tradition.
These conversation with my friends remind me how important it is to share information about these topics with our students. These are not just themes for class; this is reality for millions of people and our planet. We’re teaching Spanish, but we’re also introducing young people to important content and culture.
Las mariposas vienen de visita from Voces Digital is an excellent way to bring these topics to class, and to do it with accessible language and appropriate support. If you don’t have a Day of the Dead lesson, I recommend you check out this new Día de los Muertos story.