Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Día de los Muertos Across the Americas

This set of lessons introduces Day of the Dead, or el Día de los muertos, as a Pan-American tradition. Through a Title VI U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center Grant, the Latin American Resource Center at the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University, is creating a set of lessons about Day of the Dead traditions across the Americas. Current lessons focus on Guatemala, Haiti, and Peru.

Through these resources, we hope to encourage cross-cultural understanding, expose students to new traditions, and provide a basis for cross-cultural comparisons in an interdisciplinary classroom. These lessons can be adapted for use in a variety of classrooms, including the art and social studies classrooms. The information presented is also applicable for a variety of grade levels.

Be sure to check out the additional resources, which include selections of Américas Award book winners about Day of the Dead, and the various countries discussed, resources available through the Latin American Resource Center Lending Library, and a variety of web-based resources from organizations around the country.

Activities in in this Unit

Día de los muertos Introduction provides a broad overview of Day of the Dead. Includes information on the history of the tradition, its development, particularly in Mexico, and how Day of the Dead differs from Halloween. An important introductory resource for the curriculum. Adaptable for all grade levels

Gedes: Haitian Day of the Dead Practices provides students with the opportunity to learn about Haitian history, Haitian religious traditions, and Day of the Dead in Haiti. A great opportunity to involve cross-cultural comparisons. Middle School Level

Barriletes: Day of the Dead in Guatemala introduces students to Guatemalan Day of the Dead traditions, particularly the use of large kites and altars. This resource presents hands-on activities to introduce cultural variability into the curriculum. Adaptable for all Grade Levels

Día de los Difuntos: Day of the Dead in Peru introduces students to Peruvian Day of the Deceased traditions including the baking of traditional breads, or tantawawas. This resource includes hands-on and Visual Thinking Strategy (VTS) activities. Adaptable for all Grade Levels

Additional Resources includes links to various texts about Day of the Dead and the countries discussed here, as well as web resources for examining Day of the Dead traditions.

How to Use this in the Classroom

This curriculum is designed to be applicable for a wide variety of age levels and classrooms. Introducing Día de los muertos around the Americas provides opportunities for internationalizing the curriculum, introducing students to other cultures, and comparing different cultures. These resources showcase the interdisciplinary nature of Latin American Studies and supports the promotion of Latin American Studies across disciplines.

Primary Researchers

Denise Woltering-Vargas, Senior Program Manager
Tulane University, LA

Monique Moss, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Dance
Tulane University, LA

Rachel A. Horowitz, Anthropologist
Tulane University, LA

Ixnal Cuma Chavez, Kaqchikel Instructor
Tulane University, LA

Kawoq Cuma Chavez, Kaqchikel Instructor
Tulane University, LA

Judith Maxwell, Professor of Anthropology
Tulane University, LA


General Latin America + People
Nancy Mock
Associate Professor - Global Health Systems and Development