Day of the Dead: Activities to Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

The Day of the Dead is the perfect occasion to honor departed loved ones and teach kids about their ancestors no matter where your family is from.

"Dia de los Muertos" Altar Shutterstock
Build an Altar

Dolores Dweck, a Mexican-American mom and blogger in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, shares her tips for creating a kid-friendly shrine.

Space Choose an elevated surface, such as a mantel, that has a generous amout of display space for fragile items. Dweck puts black-and-white photos of loved ones on a kid-size table, where her 2-year-old son, Amado, can place personal mementos near each picture.

Icons Every altar is different, but certain items are symbolic of the occasion: Marigold flowers are said to guide souls back to the living, candles represent our burning love for deceased relatives, and sugar skulls honor each spirit’s personality. 

Individuality Whether it’s a kitchen utensil, a clothing item, or a snack, including reminders of the person honored makes it extra special. “My grandfather used to love garlic sandwiches, so I have a little bowl of garlic for him,” Dweck says.

Get into the Spirit 

These illustrated books will do the trick.

Día de los Muertos by Roseanne Greenfield Thong This tale follows children from a small pueblo as they celebrate the holiday by decorating altars and dressing up as calaveras. Ages 4–8 

The Dead Family Diaz by P. J. Bracegirdle Angelito A skeleton from the Land of the Dead becomes separated from his family in the Land of the Living. Ages 6–9

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh With this playful picture book, children will learn how Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada’s calaveras became the symbol of the Day of the Dead. Ages 6–10