South Orangetown Central School District

Dia de los Muertos lesson at SOMS

Over the past two days, South Orangetown Middle School World Language teacher Adolfo Godinez has been teaching his students all about Día De Los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead.

Día De Los Muertos is traditionally observed in Mexico on November 1 and 2 and it’s a celebratory holiday to remember loved ones that have passed on. “I teach about this holiday because it makes students aware of cultures around them and around the globe. We have many students in our classrooms who celebrate Día De Los Muertos, and it is a great opportunity to learn about why other cultures celebrate their loved ones who have passed. It is also a great opportunity for students to become culturally aware of the Spanish speaking language and their holidays. Culture is a great opportunity for students to reflect and understand how culture plays a huge role in learning another language,” explained Godinez.

On Wednesday, Godinez taught his seventh graders the significance of the holiday and he explained common symbols associated with the holiday including sugar skulls and how families honor the deceased through a candlelit altar. Students learned that the altars traditionally include some of the favorite foods of their loved ones, flowers, photos and decorations. After learning about some of the traditions associated with the Day of the Dead, students completed a Venn diagram that showed how this holiday is similar and different from Halloween.

Students ended the lesson by creating decorations for the special holiday to be displayed in the classroom. Some students decorated sugar skulls while others created colorful tissue paper flowers. Students made colorful marigold flowers (cempasúchil), which are meant to symbolize love and the cycle of life.