Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday in which families honor and remember their ancestors who have passed on. Dia de los Muertos activities for kids are a wonderful way to connect with your own ancestors and learn more about Mexican culture.
While participating, it’s important to learn in a respectful way that centers those of Mexican ancestry. This guide is intended to help you appreciate and avoid cultural appropriation as you learn with and teach your children about this beautiful holiday. It also directs you to resources created by those of Mexican heritage, and provides ways to support those of Mexican ancestry as we benefit from the gift of their beautiful traditions.
This guide to Dia de los Muertos activities for kids contains affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own. That means I earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, but doesn’t change your price.
Dia de los Muertos Activities for Kids
Table of Contents
Featured Dia de los Muertos Book
Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaverasby Duncan Tonatiuh
Funny Bones Picture Book Discussion Questions
- Why did Posada create La Catrina?
- What symbol would you use to represent the deceased?
- Do you think death is an equalizer?
Other Dia De Los Muertos Books for Kids
Dia de los Muertos Activity Books
Dia de los Muertos Facts
Color in Mexico on this map of North America!
Mexico with Kids: Flag Activity
Flag from HERE
HERE is a fun printable Mexico flag coloring sheet!
Featured Important Mexican Indigenous Peoples: Aztecs
Dia de los Muertos originated over 3000 years ago with the Aztecs. When the holiday began, it was a way to honor the underworld and its queen. She was the protector of bones and brought them back to earth on an annual basis, for which they celebrated her. When Aztec traditions merged with Spanish colonialism and Catholicism, Dia de los Meurtos began to evolve into how it is celebrated today.
Now, it is a celebration of life and ancestors. with beautiful flowers, colorful paper, and ofrendas, or offerings. Families often create altars out of deceased family members’ favorite items and cook their favorite foods.
Featured Mexican Artist: José Guadalupe Posada
Jose Guadalupe Posada was a political cartoonist who was known for his calaveras, including La Calavera Catrina. He made fun of those who wanted to be fancy like Europeans, and pointed out that we all die and end up as skeletons.
Featured Dia de los Muertos Food: Pan de Muerto
Families often make their ancestors’ favorite foods for Dia de los Muertos. One food that is very common, however, is pan de muerto, a sweet bread placed at the ofrenda to honor the deceased.
One wonderful way to support those of Mexican heritage during Dia de los Muertos is to purchase pan de muerto from a local bakery!
Authentic Pan de Muerto Recipe
You can make your own pan de muerto with some basic pantry staples!
Dia de los Muertos Activities for Kids
There are a number of wonderful ways to celebrate Dia de los Muertos with kids:
- Eat or make pan de muerto
- Hang papel picado (see below for buying authentic papel picado), and discuss how the delicate paper represents the fragility of life (or learn to make an easy version!)
- Learn about your ancestors and write an essay about a deceased family member
- Hunt for marigolds, known as the flowers of the dead, whose scent attracts deceased souls
- Create an altar with a deceased loved one’s favorite items and photographs
- Learn to draw a sugar skull
- Visit a graveyard, especially the burial site of a loved one
How to Avoid Cultural Appropriation with Dia de los Muertos: Supporting Mexican Heritage
An important part of avoiding cultural appropriation is to financially support the cultures from which we learn and borrow. It’s important compensate those from those cultures so that the culture can continue to thrive.
Here are some ways you can support those of Mexican ancestry:
Buy Pan de Muerto from a Local Grocer
Instead of searching a big supermarket or even making it yourself, consider support a Mexican bakery. You may want to purchase other things while there, as well. Or perhaps buy one for yourself, and take one to a friend!
Buy Authentic Papel Picado
While a number of big box stores now carry papel picado, you should absolutely purchase it from someone of Mexican heritage instead. Profiting off another culture is one of the most egregious forms of appropriation. We should avoid purchasing traditional items with deep significance, like papel picado, from big corporations.
The best way to purchase papel picado is from someone experienced in the authentic tradition of making it with a hammer and chisel (instead of just a laser cut version). Shops like this one use the traditional method and create beautiful works of art. Supporting shops like this is one of the best ways to avoid perpetuating power imbalances that stem from cultural appropriation in celebrating Dia de los Muertos.
Learn about your own ancestors and make your own traditional foods
While foods like tamales may be common for Dia de los Muertos, they often represent a deceased loved one’s favorite food. To honor the motivation behind the culinary tradition, consider eating foods specific to YOUR culture, whatever it may be. If you don’t have Mexican heritage, consider making or eating your own ancestors’ favorite foods and consider their significance in helping you reflect and remember.
Study Mexican history and culture
Dia de los Muertos is a perfect time to learn more about Mexico with kids. It’s a wonderful opportunity to study this diverse and beautiful country and its people, and also participate in some traditional activities. Here’s a virtual tour of Mexico with kids to jump start your learning!
Purchase an authentic Mexican cookbook
It’s easy to Google recipes, but it’s also wonderful to support Mexican (or Mexican-American) cookbook authors! This is a fantastic authentic Mexican cookbook.
Sign up for an online Mexican cooking class
Day of the Dead Writing Assignment: Mexico for Kids Language Arts Activity
Read a book about Dia de los Muertos. Have children research an ancestor and write an essay talking about her or his life. Have kids consider for what they think the ancestor would most want to be remembered.
Kid Movies About Dia de los Muertos
Dia de los Muertos with Kids Discussion Questions
- Does death scare you? Why or why not?
- Do you believe our spirits remain alive after our bodies die?
- Is there an ancestor to whom you feel close?
- What is a hobby you have? Let’s try to find an ancestor with a similar interest.
- How would you want to be remembered after you die?
Thanks for learning about Dia de los Muertos with kids with us!
We’ve loved putting together this resource with Dia de los Muertos activities for kids. We’d love to hear if you do any of these activities!
We hope to inspire curiosity and connection through exploring and learning, and we hope this guide helps you and your families. Please share any activities you do with us over on our Instagram. And we’d be delighted if you passed this Dia de los Muertos with kids resource along to others, as well!
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