Interdisciplinary Project Based Learning – Celebrating the Day of the Dead

Kim Cimetta, Art Department Head, and Andrea Schaaf, Spanish Teacher
As we celebrate diversity and personalization in the classroom, the Spanish classes and visual art department joined forces to teach students about the Mexican celebration, Dia del Muertos (Day of the Dead).

In Mexico, individuals celebrate the Day of the Dead on November 1, and November 2, each year. The Mexican culture embraces these days as a way to show their respect and remembrance for a deceased loved one. They fill the graveyards, as well as their homes, with calacas (skeletons), altars, papel picado (paper art), food and toys. The sights and sounds of music and candles are a large part in the celebration.

Both the Spanish and visual art curriculums state, “students will acquire an understanding and appreciation of diverse communities in regions of the world … students will learn how art works and record the history, values and beliefs of various societies and cultures.” With these leading strands in mind, we combined our Spanish and visual art classes to expand our students’ language, artistic skills and appreciation for this beautiful and authentic celebration from Mexico.

Grade 10 Spanish students and Grade 9 art students worked together, collaborating and creating the Day of the Dead calacas with the laser cutter. The Grade 12 Spanish students created an informative slideshow, while the Grade 11 Spanish students designed a magnificent display in the Fitch Foyer. In the art room, the Grade 9 students created their own calaca designs using the laser cutter, then carefully added intricate designs, images and symbols.

To complete this fun activity, the art and Spanish students enjoyed special treats while watching the movie Coco, an animated Oscar-winning movie,which tells the story of the Day of the Dead celebrations.

We hope you enjoyed the wonderful student displays, and also learned more about the Mexican culture and their Day of the Dead celebrations.