On top of Halloween and dissecting Owl Pellets, I decided to do a room transformation for Día de los Muertos. Students learned, participated in many engaging activities, and had a lot of fun.
First, I transformed the room by rearranging the desks and decorating. I had table clothes, candles, decorated skeletons, and flowers that I got at the dollar store. I saved boxes from Amazon shipments to build the ofrenda (alter).
I also purchased wooden frames from Michael’s for a dollar each and my students painted and decorated each so they could put a picture of someone or an animal to honor. Students also made papel picado for the decorations. They were much easier than I imagined and some of designs were quite detailed, better than I could do.
We started the morning by doing Jenga math problems practicing divison problems. I used the lessons I would have taught anyway, but I converted the problems into a Jenga game. Next, we put together a skeleton and label the major bones. My students have been learning about the bone structure in PE and we did owl pellets the day before, so all tied in together nicely.
After recess, students wrote about their loved one or animal that passed. Students then did a walking gallery, reading each other’s papers. Students were very respectful of others feelings and had some really nice things to each other.
I usually do a grammar lesson on Thursdays, so I took my lesson and turned into a Riddle Up game. Students go to ten stations around the room and answer the questions. They have to check in with me to see if the answers are correct after each station. It adds a little competition for my kiddos, even though there is no reward for finishing first.
Before lunch, we had to go to our scheduled music time. My students play ukulele, which fit in perfect with our theme.
When we came in from lunch and recess, I read the book La Llorona by Joe Hayes. Even though that folklore story isn’t usually used for Día de los Muertos, I wanted to share a little Mexican culture.
Finally, we ended the day with our party. Parents sent in food, including Pan de Muerto and chicharrones. While my students ate, several students wanted to read their writing pieces. The parents loved hearing what they wrote.
It was a great day and I was totally exhausted at the end, but it was totally worth it. I can honestly say, in all my years of teaching, this was my easiest day after Halloween as far as behavior. My students were so excited with the different activities and engaged, they didn’t give me much trouble. I am so glad I wasn’t trying to do normal routine schoolwork.
If you have a chance to do a room transformation, big or small, you should try it. My students loved the build up to the event and the actual day. I don’t do them all the time, so they are very special. By trying to make my classroom an exciting and engaging place, I have students who want to come to school. But nothing warms my heart more than the comment one of my students said two weeks ago – “I have so much fun at school, some days I don’t even want to go home.”
Have a great week, everybody!