Jackie Mazariegos’ eighth-grade Spanish 1 students created “shoebox altars” as part of their cultural lessons focusing on Día de los Muertos, an Aztec/Mexican holiday honoring the dead with festivals and lively celebrations.
Lessons like these reinforces regular faculty lesson planning to incorporate cultural enrichment into classrooms.
Día de los Muertos begins on Oct. 31 with the washing and preparing of the graves in cemeteries and is on Nov. 1 and 2 in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries.
Throughout October, students were involved in several activities to learn about Día de los Muertos, concluding with the building of a class “ofrenda” or altar.
The “ofrenda” consists of six items: calaveras (sugar skulls), marigolds, papel picado (perforated paper), pan de muerto (bread of the dead), salt and photographs of deceased relatives.
Some students colored ¨talaveras,¨ which are Mexican tiles. The talaveras’ origins date back to the 17th century with the arrival of the Spaniards. Student talaveras were colored, laminated, and hung up around the altar. Other students chose to color calaveras(skulls). Calaveras are decorated sugar skulls that are used to decorate the altar.
The student shoebox altars honored a deceased relative, pet or famous person. They added photos, flowers, papel picado, and little mementos of the special person or pet they chose to remember.