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Mexico's Day of the Dead

Grade Levels: 3 - 8

Overview

By studying the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday, students gain an understanding that various cultures have differing views of life and death.

Objectives

  • Students will discuss how death is associated in our culture.
  • Students will compare and contrast U.S. attitudes toward death with those of Mexico.
  • Students will find the main idea of a paragraph.

Materials

Procedure

  1. Review the following vocabulary words: festivity, mourning, cultural differences.

  2. Ask students to take a few minutes to write down what comes to their minds when they think of "death." Ask them to consider various rituals surrounding death and dying, such as funerals. Call on volunteers to share their ideas and write responses on the board. The ethnic diversity of your class may affect the range of answers you receive.

  3. Ask if anyone has heard of the Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrated in Mexico. Briefly tell the students that Mexicans have a different approach to death than do many Americans. Give students a copy of our Day of the Dead fact sheet.

  4. Have a student read the title and the first paragraph of this page aloud. Call on someone else to explain what the main idea is in that paragraph. Remind students that the main idea of a paragraph is usually introduced in the first sentence. Have students read the next three paragraphs independently and identify the main idea for each.

  5. After students have finished reading the article and viewing the photo, invite them to share some newfound information about the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead. Place these ideas and thoughts on the board.

  6. Direct students to write an essay comparing and contrasting their own view of death with that portrayed in the article. If they write more than one paragraph, remind them to use main ideas for each paragraph.

Assessment

Extensions

  • Have students read books about the Day of the Dead and give book talks. Here are some titles to consider: Pablo Remembers: The Fiesta of the Day of the Dead, by George Ancona; Barrilete: A Kite for the Day of the Dead, by Elisa Amado and Joya Hairs; and Day of the Dead: A Mexican-American Celebration, by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith and Lawrence Migdale.
  • Have students research All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

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