Day of the Dead Art Project

The Dead of the Dead is a Mexican celebration honoring loved ones who have passed. This vibrant holiday calls the elaborately decorated skeletons, Catrinas. My second grade students loved creating their Day of the Dead Catrinas using paint and paper.

Use a white oil pastel on black paper to draw the Catrina. We started with an oval for the head and drew two circles for the eyes, a triangle for the nose and two lines for the mouth. A big curved line wrapping around and above the head served as a hat for the men. Lady Catrina’s can have hats too!

Three horizontal lines worked well for the neck, then a simple shirt and pants/skirts. Simple lines broken into 2 sections created the arms and legs. Add smaller lines for feet and hands.

Set white tempera paint on the table and paint head arms and legs. To paint the rest of the Catrina, its best to use tempera paint colors tinted with some white paint. This way, the colors will pop on the black paper.

Image source: PoshPosh

Day of the Dead Book suggestions for children:

Day of the Dead

Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book

 Second Grade Catrinas!


  1. Char says:

    Would love to know how many minutes/class periods your projects take. :) Thanks!

  2. Patty P says:

    just one…about 40 minutes. Go longer if you like. Perhaps add a background, etc.

  3. Holly V. says:

    I absolutely love these. I might have to try it with my students.

  4. Kelli says:

    Do you have a good picture book to introduce this lesson?

  5. Carmen Zeisler says:

    I love this project! I did this last year with my third graders and we just had a blast! I can’t wait to do this again!

  6. [...] Day of the Dead Painting project for younger children [...]

  7. […] Deep Space Sparkle’s Katrina Paintings  […]

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About Patty

I teach art to 400 school children in Goleta, California. My art library contains hundreds of free art lesson ideas. My shop has art lesson plans, videos and resources to help you teach art to kids. It's a whole lot easier with Deep Space Sparkle.

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