Arts ESU2
Visual Arts, World History, Cultural Geography
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Day of the Dead
  • NE Art
  • NE Visual Arts
  • Nebraska Department of Education
  • Visual Arts
  • ne-art
  • ne-visual-arts
  • visual-arts
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike

    Education Standards

    Geography & Day of the Dead

    Geography & Day of the Dead


    This resource was created by Cierra Morten, in collaboration with Dawn DeTurk, Hannah Blomstedt, and Julie Albrecht, as part of ESU2's Integrating the Arts project. This project is a four year initiative focused on integrating arts into the core curriculum through teacher education, practice, and coaching.

    Geography & Day of the Dead


    Lesson Title:
    Content Area: GeographyFine Arts Area: Visual Arts
    Grade Level: 9th GradeTeacher:  Cierra Morten


    Standards and Alignment
    Content Area Standard:SS HS.3.2.b Examine the importance of places and regions to individual and social identity and how identities change over space and time. SS HS.3.4.b Examine the spread of cultural traits and the potential benefits and challenges of cultural diffusion, economic development, and globalization.Fine Arts Standard:FA 12.2.1.a Analyze multiple ideas and materials (glossary) to demonstrate planning and refining.
    Key Vocabulary:line, shape, texture, form, symmetry, color, Dia de los Muertos, papel picado, sugar skull, Mictecacihuatl, calavera, ofrendas                                                   Materials List:tissue paper, scissors, pencil, eraser, pipe cleaners, fine line markers, paper plates, Day of the Dead History worksheet and Questions


    Lesson Delivery
    In smaller groups, students will follow Dia De Los Muertos learning stations around the classroom.
    1. Video and Reflection
    1. Students will watch the video here and reflect on its meaning.
    1. Tissue Paper Marigolds
    1. Students will make a tissue paper marigold. Stack four sheets of paper, pleat the paper in an accordian fold, cut a half-circle shape from each end, and wrap a pipe cleaner around the middle of the paper to hold in place (this will also be the stem). Fan out the paper, gently separate the first layer of paper from the rest, and move it up to form the top layer of petals. Gently separate the rest of the paper layers and fluff the flower. Flowers represented the fragility of life. Mexican/Aztec marigolds, otherwise known as the flower of the dead. Marigolds were considered sacred by the Aztecs so they bred them to create bigger and more attractive blooms (can be up to 3 feet tall); used for decorative and medicinal purposes; believed to cure hiccups and even heal those struck by lightning.
    1. Papel Picado
    1. Students will cut elaborate designs in a piece of tissue paper. Common themes are skulls, flowers, or birds. Students can fold the paper to create designs much like they would to create a snowflake out of paper. Originated with the Aztecs - they would make similar designs on tree bark. Papel Picados were often hung around altars (ofrendas). Ofrendas highlight the four elements of the earth: fire, water, Earth, and air. Papel Picados represent air.
    1. Sugar Skulls
    1. Students will decorate a paper plate sugar skull using symmetry and color to create lines and shapes. Based on Aztec beliefs of honoring loved ones who have passed. Were placed on altars (ofrendas) and gravestones of deceased loved ones. The name comes from the clay molded sugar that authentic sugar skulls are made from, before adding decorations. Decorations were bright and cheerful, to celebrate the lives of the deceased.
    1. History of the Day of the Dead Worksheet
    1. Students will read an article over the history and traditions associated with the Day of the Dead. They will then complete a worksheet over their reading.


    Assessment and Reflection
    Content Assessment:Class Discussion on important elements of the Day of the Dead. History of the Day of the Dead worksheet.Arts Assessment:Students took artistic projects home the day they were complete. We discussed their planning of their art pieces the next day in class.
    Student Reflection:Students enjoyed this introductory activity.Teacher Reflection:Should have premade more of the artistic activities, so the students had more time to work on them.



    Visuals and Handouts
    Art Handout