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ERIC Number: EJ995585
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1083-5415
Day of the Dead
Dann, Tammy; Murphy, Amy
Learning Languages, v17 n2 p10-13 Spr 2012
Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) teachers in the West Des Moines schools incorporate the Day of the Dead into the fourth grade curriculum each year. The teachers discuss the Day of the Dead celebration at the Art Center, and many ask for volunteers from fourth grade to participate in the event. Student presentations include a wide range of activities in the Spanish language. Many demonstrate the traditions of the Day of the Dead through poetry, crafts, drama and music. Students use Spanish to describe crafts they have made for the audience to enjoy, such as miniature skeletons (calacas) dressed in costumes that illustrate favorite activities. The students, some of whom are dressed in homemade skeleton costumes, recite and act out traditional stories and poems. Incorporated with the songs about the Day of the Dead are actions and pictures to help with comprehension for those who may not speak the language. Audience participation and presentation interpretations are encouraged. Students perform in a studio decorated with art from their peers, creating a festive atmosphere. Many art teachers from the West Des Moines schools send art inspired by the Day of the Dead to hang in the studio as a cultural background. This event is the perfect setting for performances in Spanish that help highlight the skills developed in the FLES program. It gives the children the opportunity to learn more and share their knowledge of the Day of the Dead with the audience. Children of different races, cultures and languages have volunteered to take part in these performances. Many of the children who participate return in the future to enjoy this celebration with their families. This community celebration has provided West Des Moines Schools with an authentic opportunity for students to practice Spanish outside of the designated class time and learn more about an important cultural tradition.
National Network for Early Language Learning. Winston-Salem, NC. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Iowa