Honoring and Remembering: Día de los Muertos Celebration

Greetings  Mount Madonna School Community!

During this week and leading through November 2, we are focusing on the cultural relevance and traditions surrounding Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. This is our fourth year of making an art installation as a whole school community project, and we are excited to share it with you!

Día de los Muertos is a beautiful celebration that takes place most notably in Mexico and is the result of cultures and traditions merging throughout history.  On November 1-2, families gather and take a special journey to the grave sites and resting places of their loved ones to spend the days and evenings celebrating their past lives feasting, dancing, and sharing memories. This is a time of reflection and appreciation of time spent with those who have passed. This holiday is not related to Halloween and is not meant to be scary; it is a time to reflect and remember special loved ones. Traditionally ofrendas or altars are decorated with flowers, candles, sugar skulls, figurines, food and objects representing loved ones.

All grades will be assigned a specific project that will contribute to a group art installation to be showcased outside the upper school Spanish classroom (B4) starting Wednesday, October 31 and ending on Friday, November 2.  All are invited to stop by and view what the students will have spent a whole week learning and creating. Lower school students will have the opportunity to visit their art and also reflect on our loved ones, while tasting some delicious pan de muerto, pan dulce and sip jamaica after the parade on Wednesday, October 31.

Students will be learning about the history and origins of Day of the Dead as well as the art and traditions surrounding it.  Each class will be in charge of creating a specific piece that will contribute to the whole art installation and celebration.

Here are the list of projects for each grade that will be available to view next week:

Pre/K: Students will be working with their fifth grade buddies on pan de muerto (Day of the Dead bread). Yummy goodness!

First Grade: Students are working with their big buddies in sixth grade to create papel picado jar candles.

Second Grade: Students are working on chalk drawings of the skeleton, labeling parts of the skeleton in Spanish with their seventh grade big buddies.

Third Grade: Students will make a homemade jamaica (hibiscus flower) drink, and learning about using the flower petals to flavor this traditional beverage. They will also be creating sugar skulls with their eighth grade big buddies and the fourth grade students.

Fourth Grade: Calaveras de azúcar: Working with their eighth grade buddies, students will mold and decorate sugar skulls!  

Fifth Grade: Papel picado: Students will use tissue paper and create spectacular paper cut outs for display, depicting traditional designs and Dia de Los Muertos scenes.

Sixth Grade: Students are working with their little buddies on a candle project, as well as skull pictures using marigold petals.

Seventh Grade: Students will be working on dioramas focusing on action verbs depicting skeletons.

Eighth Grade: Students will be creating the centerpiece! They will construct an art piece representing this special holiday along with the preparations of tissue paper flowers to decorate.

Ninth-Twelfth Grades: Students will work on poetry, short stories and art pieces for window display. They will also help with the construction and display of the ofrenda!

Many students have asked us if they could bring in photos of special loved ones (including pets) that have passed and that they would like to honor. We welcome students to use this art installation as way to celebrate those that they would like to remember.  If your student chooses to participate in this way, please label the back of the photograph or item so that we can return them to the owner. All objects need to be brought in by Tuesday, October 30.

Con mucho cariño,

Sara Sobkoviak, middle and high school Spanish
Prema Gammons, lower and middle school Spanish


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 355 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a community of learners dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville

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