Inspiring children one color at a time

Day of the Dead Art Project

By on Oct 25, 2009 in 2nd Grade Art Lessons, Art Lessons by Seasons, Culture Based, Dia de Los Muertos, Mexican Unit | 5 comments

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


    October 26, 2009

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

    Patty P

    October 26, 2009

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

    Holly V.

    October 27, 2009

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


    September 29, 2011

  5. 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!

    Carmen Zeisler

    July 24, 2012


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