Dia de Los Muertos!!

It’s October – which means Dia de Los Muertos is right around the corner! I imagine all other parent art volunteers are thinking of what Halloween or fall project to do while I sit here wondering if it’s not too soon to start decorating the halls with sparkly Calaveras. Both would be beautiful of course – sadly, my project would be a bit premature. (fun and premature)

In talking to my older children about the impending project of the dead, my oldest told me he thinks I did skulls every year of his elementary school life – I say GOOD! Each year his skulls got more decorative and intricate, it was a wonder to see his evolution as an artist.

So, here we are again, but this time I found a super post on how to make your skull from a paper plate! I’m loving the way the students add Frida flowers or hats to their skulls by keeping a little more of the plate. It’s a nice variation for those kids who like to do more.

First, lets get to the plan:

  1. Gather your supplies
    • Paper Plates
    • Black Markers
    • Crayons
    • elmers glue
    • scissors
    • GLITTER!
    • tape & popcicle sticks (optional)
  2. Have the students write their name on the back of their project – this little step is muy, muy importante.
  3. Directions for cutting out masks from plates:
  4. Don’t forget the Glitter! – This is my all time favorite project for glitter and the directions from the snapguide don’t include making glue swirls and pouring gobs of glitter on them. (your choice)
  5. I listed crayons, but really you can choose to do this with paint or pencil or markers depending on the skill level of your students and what you have available.

Last year a friend of mine dug up this sweet little video to show the students why this Mexican tradition isn’t a morbid one:

Here are some potential learning elements to draw from this lesson:

History: Mexican Folklore

Math: Symmetry

Art: Color, Texture, Balance, Variety, Pattern

Foreign Language: Calavera, Dia, Muertos


I did this with my son’s 2nd grade class. While working one on one with my child for the test was simple and beautiful, doing a very guided craft like this one with 21 7-8 year old children was much more complicated.


For younger classrooms: 1. trace the skull template for the kids to cut out.

2. Have a parent do fine glue lines and let the child sprinkle the glitter.

3. Crayons. (possibly watercolor resist – if no glitter will be used)

Older children are more able to execute the radial symmetry portion of the skull mask instructions and handle their own glitter. Other media are more possible at this level as well – oil pastels, tempera, etc…


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