Lower School Celebrates El Día de los Muertos

Each Lower School Spanish class recently learned about the mexican holiday El Día de los Muertos that is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. Students discussed the holiday’s significance and traditions, read a book, played vocabulary games, completed a simple craft, and enjoyed a celebration with traditional Pan de Muerto (sweet bread baked with crossbones shaped on top of the loaf) and Refresco de Piña (pineapple soft drinks). This year, lower school parent and El Rancho Grande proprietor Joaquin Meza is providing all the Pan de Muerto from a local Mexican bakery run by people from his hometown in Mexico! The fifth graders remember his visit to their fourth-grade class to share his immigration story last winter.

In preparation for our celebration, first graders made their own skull-shaped crayons, second graders created skull-shaped magnets and hanging decorations, and third graders decorated traditional sugar skulls with sequins, feathers, and glitter. Our fourth graders made tissue paper “Cempasuchiles” (marigolds), the traditional flowers used in the celebration to attract the visiting spirits, and fifth graders formed beautiful traditional Mexican embossed metal “Ofrendas,” as a tribute to loved ones who have passed. These included grandparents and other family members, famous people they admire, beloved Lower School Music teacher Mary Pollart, pets, and ancestors.

This holiday is a great opportunity to help children learn about the history of the Americas, as it represents a unique blend of Christian, Aztec, Mayan, and Incan traditions honoring the dead. It also serves as a chance to learn about the cultural notion of an event that conceives of death as a glad reunion with the spirits of loved ones, and not exclusively as a time for mourning. The students look forward to these events every fall, and it is impressive to see the evolution of their thinking about the topic over the course of their lower school years.