Researching the Day of the Dead

For the November 1st and 2nd Day of the Dead holiday, Montgomery School students in Chester Springs, PA, turned their sixth grade Spanish classroom into a “graveyard!” Each student was asked to pick a famous Hispanic who has passed away, research them, and then create a tombstone for that person. The tombstones were then set up in a cemetery-like display in the classroom.

Students in Ms. DiRodio’s Spanish class enjoyed the project, which included research, storytelling, art, and presentations skills. The Day of the Dead is a holiday observed in Mexico and parts of the United States which honors the memory of departed ancestors. The research component of the project allowed students to learn about famous Hispanics throughout history, and to follow their own interests in researching particular celebrities.

The students chose to research Rita Hayworth, Roberto Clemente, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Che Guevara, and more. The final presentations included information on the celebrity’s background and expertise, important contributions to society, and the student’s opinion on whether their person made the world a better place or not. Each tombstone also featured “alter” pictures that represented things that would be placed on a traditional Día de los Muertos ofrenda (alter).

The classroom “graveyard” gave students a chance to appreciate the work put into each of the projects. Ms. DiRodio explained, “The students loved this project, because they were able to research a famous Hispanic of their choice, and share their passion with the rest of the class. The students were able to open themselves up to a different cultural tradition while exploring the history of famous Hispanics.”

Does your school do something similar?

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