A great “Día de los Muertos” Kids Activity

I live in Florida, which means carved pumpkins are an invitation to all kinds of bugs and a scary stench in my doorstep. Perfect to drive monsters away but no so inviting for trick or treaters…

I personally dislike everything plastic. In Argentina where I grew up as a kid, everything was hand-made with noble materials such as wood, fabric, wool, paper. Every time a new holiday creeps in here in the US, my kids bring home an array of plastic decorations, plastic mini toys, plastic costumes, plastic everything that is so bad for the environment. I am trying to teach them that it is much better to make everything ourselves, using whatever noble materials we can find at home, and with our own hands. I also believe that something that is hand-made has its own soul, that in a way the creator blows life into the creation…

 

I found this amazing “hispanic” alternative while shopping for plastic (disgusting anti environmental choice) pumpkins for my 6 year’s old school project. I was walking down the typical plastic decorations aisle at the local arts & crafts store and suddenly I saw a whole group of white skulls perfectly organized on shelves. It was a breath of fresh air. In my mind I was immediately taken to Mexico and El Día de los Muertos. El Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), a Mexican celebration, is a day to celebrate, remember and prepare special foods in honor of those who have departed. On this day in Mexico, the streets near the cemeteries are filled with decorations of flowers, candy calaveras (skeletons and skulls), and parades.
It is believed that the spirit of the dead visits their families on October 31 and leave on November 2.

It might sound somewhat morbid, but the Mexicans react to death with happiness and joy. They show their fear of death by mocking and living alongside death. Death is apparent in everyday life. Death is laughed at in its face. Children carrying flowers enjoy the processions to the cemetery. At the cemetery, music is played and dances are made to honor the spirits. Death is a celebration in Mexico. In a way it reminds me of how children talk about death. For them it is as natural as birth, and as cyclical as a flower blooming or a seed sprouting.

I thought this was the perfect Halloween craft to do with kids. To paint death with beautiful colors.

 

Materials needed:
Ceramic skull (pre-made or make your own with clay)
Sharpies
Paint & brushes
Sequins or glitter

Instructions:

Create some interesting patterns and drawings on the skulls using a wide sharpie. Flowers, circles, geometrical shapes are all good. Have the kids paint inside these shapes using bright-colored paint. Acrylic or tempera can be used, or even colored sharpies. Glue some sequins or use some glitter to add that extra sparkly shine.
Once skulls are decorated, place them at you doorstep among the pumpkins. They will definitely stand out among the traditional orange and black decorations.

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Consuelo Lyonnet
consuelolyonnet@mac.com

 

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