Día de los Muertos is full of color and images. It is also full of meaning! Be sure you include information about the significance of the celebration when you do these easy Day of the Dead crafts with kids.
Meaning of Día de los Muertos
This Día de los Muertos video and the Day of the Dead video listening activities that accompany it make a great lesson before doing a craft. The video is a short conversation about making an altar and emphasizes the significance of the tradition.
I also wrote a list of Día de los Muertos facts for Spanish learners and included a version in English. The printable is available in black and white or color on the Multicultural Kid Blogs website: 10 Things Kids Should Know about The Day of the Dead.
Easy Day of the Dead Crafts
I choose craft activities for my classes that reinforce the vocabulary we are working on. I have to choose projects that are relatively quick because my classes are short and my time with kids is precious. So, this is a collection of easy Day of the Dead crafts.
With cultural art projects, like these easy Day of the Dead crafts, the meaning of the celebration provides much of the language. For example, with Día de los Muertos it is natural to include family vocabulary and emotions, in addition to the words associated with the altar and other traditions. Of course, the traditional decorations lend themselves to talking about basic concepts like colors and shapes too.
You can find a Día de los Muertos video I love, and some of my other favorite resources for talking about the Day of the Dead in this post: Day of the Dead Activities. This Learn Spanish with Pictures activity describes a photo of an altar and has questions using Day of the Dead vocabulary.
Calavera coloring pages are easy Day of the Dead crafts and you can add glitter, sequins and other decorations to make the skulls more elaborate. These coloring pages are good for language practice too. For example, you can use calaveras to review colors, parts of the face and shapes.
I made this coloring sheet and combined the calavera with a color-by-number. I do realize this takes the creatively out of it, but it’s great language practice.
For a more creative option, if you have time, use regular calavera coloring pages and have students make a color-by-number for a friend. They can also color a key if you print two.
These coloring pages of calaveras have some information about the holiday in English.
These coloring pages from HelloKids can be colored online or printed. There are calaveras, papel picado, esqueletos, and la Catrina. The captions in Spanish are descriptive and good exposure to language, but the captions do not print on the coloring sheets. A word of warning – HelloKids has a lot of advertisements!
Finally, Imágenes Educativas has an extensive collection of Day of the Dead coloring pages, collected from around the internet. You’ll find skulls, skeletons, altars and more. Scroll to the bottom for the links to the PDFs.
Red Ted Art had the fabulous idea of using coloring pages to make Day of the Dead luminaries. All you need beyond the usual coloring supplies are electric tea lights for these easy Day of the Dead crafts. Red Ted Art has lots of free calavera pages to print. So pretty!
Papel picado is a beautiful traditional craft, but many patterns are too difficult for my students. I love these easy papel picado patterns and máscaras from Fun for Spanish Teachers. You can find them in the Fun for Spanish Teachers TpT store for only $2.50.
This is one of my favorite easy Day of the Dead crafts or activities. Cut skulls from white felt and then cut shapes, hearts, stars and flowers. Kids can rearrange these in endless combinations, or if you like, add glue, sequins and jewels for a permanent design.
Making skeleton puppets out of printable patterns and brads is another of my favorite easy Day of the Dead crafts. As you can imagine, these are great for reviewing parts of the body!
You can find lots of printable skeleton puppets online, but my favorites are the Day of the Dead puppets from Red Ted Art. Kids customize the puppets using the hats and flowers in the template and decorating the skulls.
This activity is a way for kids to make Day of the Dead relevant to their families. Of course, whether it is appropriate will depend on your setting and your relationship with your students. To do the activity, kids glue or draw pictures of deceased family members into the frames (I print the page on card stock). It takes a little planning for students bring in photos, but it is an excellent way of talking about family. You can download the Día de los Muertos Mis Parients PDF here or by clicking on the image.
Whether you opt for easy Day of the Dead crafts or decide to tackle something more time-consuming like papel picado, the important thing is to tie the activity to the true meaning of the holiday. It is important for children to know Día de los Muertos is a festive time to remember and honor loved ones who have died.