Day of the Dead / Ofrenda Nicho Box

Appropriate for grades: K - 12
Subject areas: History and Social Studies Visual and Performing Arts

Birth and death, two of the most transcendental moments of life are celebrated by all cultures according to their particular belief systems, historical development, environment, and evolution within their culturally specific context. Every world culture has coping mechanisms to deal with the loss of life. In Mexico, the belief among its native ethnic groups and within the great majority of its Mestizo (mixed European, Indigenous, African ancestry) population, is that the dead have divine permission to return to the family home for forty-eight hours (November 1st & 2nd) each year to enjoy the pleasures they knew in life, and that it is the duty and responsibility of the surviving family members to welcome their deceased loved ones and ancestors for a brief reunion on their yearly visit. Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrates a communion between the living and the dead in a colorful festival of ritual and life. Spanish Language Version.


Teaching / Learning Goals:

Teachers and students will …


  • To understand the history and evolution of Día de los Muertos, a Mexican tradition, and how ofrendas are central to that tradition (historical and cultural understanding).
  • To explore and discuss the variety of materials that are used to create ofrendas for Día de los Muertos and discover how they are constructed using layering/level building techniques (perceiving, analyzing and responding).
  • To create a personal Ofrenda Nicho Box for Día de los Muertos using mixed media (creating and performing).

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