Calaveras Creativas Project

Today, I am sharing with you my calaveras creativas project idea. Last year, in the weeks around El Día de los Muertos, I saw so many awesome ideas on Pinterest, and I wished I had seen them early enough to do something with them. I was determined to incorporate some of these fun things into my curriculum for this school year.

The problem is, with an already packed curriculum, I found trouble with fitting in another cultural project or activity. Certainly, we study this holiday in class as it is a pertinent piece of Hispanic culture. However, I find this particular cultural study to be the only one in which some of the middle school students and their parents give resistance to participating. For instance, some of my fellow foreign language teachers have had complaints from parents after assigning the traditional altar as a mandatory class project. Although we took the time to study the historical and cultural significance of the holiday during class time, I offered the calaveras creativas project as a bonus opportunity for the students who wished to spend their time putting forth creative effort in honor of the holiday. This way, those who wanted to participate were able to do so, and those who didn’t shouldn’t have had an issue. Shouldn’t always being the key word when dealing with students and parents.

For the project, the students were asked to create some kind of decoration involving a typical El Día de los Muertos calavera. I showed the students some of the following ideas.

Painted nails or Face Paint.





Painted Pumpkins.

Sugar Skull Cookies.

I gave the students a week to turn in their optional calaveras creativas projects. I was so pleased at some of the things which were turned in. Of course, I accepted photos for a lot of the projects since the students couldn’t come to school wearing face paint. My rule about the photos was that the student had to be visible in the photo along with the item. I was concerned some students might simply find a photo online and try to pass it off as his or her own. Unfortunately, because the students’ faces are visible in all of the photos, I can’t share any of them here on this post. Such a shame, too, because I have some creative kiddos! Some of the calaveras creativas were made of Halloween candy. Others did the sandwiches and the face paint. Some made drawings. Some of the drawings were a little on the rough side, but they met all the expectations I had set for the calaveras creativas project (original work, the product had to show knowledge of the meaning and/or decor of Day of the Dead, etc.)

One young lady – who is a super, super talented artist – created the following artwork. I was so impressed with it that it just had to be framed. She came up to my desk yesterday and said, “You put it in a frame?”

I said, “Of course! It was too good not to do so. Everyone has been asking about it all day.”

It was so cute how she was trying to hide her smile, acting like it wasn’t that big of a deal, as she said, “Really? What have they been saying?”

Look at it for yourself. Wouldn’t you have framed it, too?

Calaveras Creativas project

Calaveras Creativas project – bonus opportunity

If you try the Calaveras Creativas project in your classroom, I would love to see some of the finished products. It’s amazing how creative kids are!


  1. The Gifted Gabber says:

    Wow, Anne! Beautiful daughter and beautiful face paint!

    Thank you for the tip on the wording. I may try that in the future. You are right – sometimes all it takes it a slight difference in how you present something!

  2. Anne K says:

    Amy, What a great post – filled with ideas and inspiration! I pinned some of those links and I will probably make a project sheet for next year. Tell your student that I love her artwork too, please.

    One thing I found that made Day of the Dead easier for the parents I deal with is eliminating the word altar in both Spanish and English. I use ofrenda and offering instead, so that it doesn't sound religious. Maybe that will work at your school too.

    My daughter decided to paint her face as a lark (not for credit in any class). Here's a link to her picture if you want to look. (She's a bit older than Scooter Britches. *sigh*)

    Much love!


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