Young Spanish language learners love celebrating the Day of the Dead, which takes place in Mexico and around the world on November 1 and 2. This annual event — which positively remembers family members who have passed away — is best known for its colorful costumes and masks that look like painted skulls. The Day of the Dead can also help children in a Spanish language immersion preschool brush up on their vocabulary and grammar skills.
Learn more about this event and how to honor it in your family, even if you don’t have Mexican heritage.
What Is the Day of the Dead?
Day of the Dead (or Día de Los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday where families celebrate the souls of deceased loved ones during a two-day celebration that encompasses music, food, and costumes. The roots of this event date back 3,000 years to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, making it a great learning experience for young Spanish language learners.
Those celebrating the Day of the Dead might create altars in their homes for deceased loved ones and decorate them with flowers, candles, and framed photos. Families will gather to read poems and letters and share experiences about relatives who have passed away.
Day of the Dead Activities
Here are some Day of the Dead activities for preschoolers:
- Write a poem for a loved one who has passed.
- Read age-appropriate Calavera poems — a Mexican tradition.
- Bake traditional Mexican treats like pan tres leches.
- Watch animated movies and TV show episodes influenced by the Day of the Dead, such as “Coco” — now streaming on Disney+.
- Create a Calavera (sugar skull) with clay.
- Learn about the history of the Day of the Dead and what this event symbolizes in Mexican culture
Improve Spanish Language Immersion
Celebrating the Day of the Dead can be a great way to help your child with their Spanish language learning. Multiple events will take place in the San Francisco Bay area in the week of this celebration, including the Festival of Altars in Potrero Del Sol Park on November 2 from 2-11 p.m.
Attending one of these events will allow your child to immerse themselves in a Spanish-language environment outside of language immersion preschool for a bilingual experience. Children can discover new Spanish words, practice speaking and listening skills, sample authentic Mexican cuisine, and learn about Mexican culture. In addition to Spanish language preschool, Day of the Dead events can:
- Promote better cultural understanding for young language learners
- Enhance creative thinking
- Improve verbal and spatial abilities
- Boost confidence
- Provide a learning advantage
Day of the Dead is an annual celebration of deceased loved ones. Carrying out activities with your child and taking them to a local event here in San Francisco can improve their Spanish skills outside of a language immersion preschool setting.