Día de los Muertos interpretive tasks for Novice learners

Okay so I know that Día de los Muertos is already done but I thought I would share some of the interpretive tasks we did this year so that you can file them away for next year or perhaps the activity will give you an idea for a task you can do with a different resource.

We used several resources this year and spread them over the weeks prior. We were talking about foods and family already so it allowed for us to touch on cultural aspects of this holiday doing with food, family while helping them use their vocabulary.

Comida – As students were talking about the foods they eat for different meals, we transitioned into talking about foods on an altar and showed just a few seconds of each video and they checked off what foods they heard or saw.

contra el reloj dia de muertos

comida tipica en altar screenshot

Familia y descripciones: I created this MovieTalk activity for this silent film. Irene learned from a conference a while back about ideas for using silent films and one of them was pair up students and have one with their back to the screen and the other one facing the screen. The one facing the screen describes what he/she is seeing. We implemented this activity twice with this video. We previewed the emotion vocabulary with images and actions prior to the video.

This is our detailed descriptions of how we used this video:

Each students needs a piece of paper (or just complete in notebook) and needs colored pencils/crayons with at least brown, blue, yellow, orange, green, etc.

  1. Ask right before showing :00-:19 (stop before girl comes into screen) ¿Qué colores ves?
  2. :19-:39 Have students pair up with one facing screen and the other back to screen. Partner A describes the girl-teacher says ¿Cómo es la chica?. Partner B draws her and colors her. (tiene pelo café, ojos cafés, etc -students can talk about whatever they see – the flower, her emotion, etc.)
  3. All face front again, partner B turn compares drawing with girl to see how they did. Reshow clip :19-:39 and ask: ¿Quién está muerto? (su mamá)  ¿Cómo está la chica? (está triste)
  4. :42-1:10 ¿Cómo está la chica? (tiene miedo) ¿Cómo están los esqueletos? (están felices/contentos)
  5. 1:10-1:28 ¿Qué comida ves? (pan, fruta)       Keep going 1:28-1:39
  6. 1:39-1:48   ¿Cómo está la chica ahora? (está bien/feliz/contenta) Keep going 1:48-2:05
  7. 2:05-2:14 ¿Qué colores son los vestidos? (azul, rosado, anaranjado, Amarillo)
  8. Stop it at 2:14-2:39 and now have partner A turn back to screen and partner B face screen. ¿Quién es el esqueleto? Describe la persona. Partner A draws who it is and what she looks like (la mamá, tiene pelo café, ojos cafés – students expand on what she is wear, what she is holding, her emotion, etc.)
  9. All face the screen and replay 2:14-2:39
  10. Play until the end (3:09)and ask ¿Cómo es la chica ahora? (está feliz/contenta/bien)

Elementos de un altar: Students got a copy of the following worksheet from RockaLingua (Christie found this good find!) in a sheet protector and a thin dry erase marker. As they watched the video they had to circle what elements/offerings they heard. All of them get said except calavera, but there is an image of a calavera in it. After watching the video I asked in Spanish, “Who heard ______?”, etc. and they would raise their hand. When we got to calavera and many raised their hand I asked in Spanish while showing motions, “Did you HEAR it or SEE it?” I used this activity as a prelude into students making their own altares.

Rock lingua



    • For the first two I used PowerPoint and imbedded the video on the slide. For the purposes of the blog I used snipping tool to get the JPEG to post on here. When I showed in class I just showed PowerPoint slide to entire class with video playing and kids answered on own paper in their notebooks. Let me know if that didn’t answer your question!


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