Create a Dia de los Muertos Altar Activity

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Updated on Jun 25, 2013

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday in which people pay tribute to deceased family members and other loved ones. Many people celebrate this holiday by building an altar in their homes in memory of their loved ones. Pictures of deceased friends and family, candles, toys, and other mementos, as well as religious artifacts, are common elements of most Dia de los Muertos altars. Build your own version of this Mexican tradition with your child and teach him about the traditions of other cultures and your own family’s ancestors.

What You Need:

  • Pictures of family ancestors
  • Candles (optional)
  • Decorations

What You Do:

  1. Search online or in books for photos of Dia de los Muertos altars to help your child visualize what you are going to create and initiate a discussion about your own family’s ancestors.
  2. Designate a place in your home for the altar. It should be visible but not in the way. A fireplace mantle or empty bookshelf works well.
  3. Select several photos of deceased family members and place them on the altar area.
  4. Add decorations of your choice. Discuss with your child what types of things would be most fitting to honor these loved ones. Traditional items include candles, flowers, toys, foods, and other symbolic offerings, but feel free to personalize your altar to your family’s preferences.
  5. Spend time as a family talking about the people in your altar pictures—who they were, what they did, and how they were important to your family. Allow everyone to share memories or stories they may have of the deceased.

For those who want to take this activity further, possible add-on activities include researching your family’s genealogy, writing a collection of stories or memories that were shared, and participating in other Dia de los Muertos traditions, such as baking Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead).

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