we help adults teach art to kids

Dia de los Muertos Art Project

One of the most popular celebrations in Central and South America is Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead. It is a special day to remember loved ones who are no longer living. The art represented in the Day of the Dead celebrations are vibrant, energetic and colorful. It’s hard not to be inspired by this special holiday.

My fifth grade students created marigolds (the flower of choice for this holiday) from painted paper scraps and placed them onto a blue or eggplant colored paper. They glued the flowers to the background paper first. Drawing a skeleton (drawing medium not specific) on a white piece of paper, the students got busy tearing their skeleton bones from the white paper and gluing onto the colored paper. Hats, guitars and musical notes followed….

I used the book, The Day of the Dead / El Dia de los Muertos by Bob Barner as my inspiration. The center spread has a wonderful illustration of a musical skeleton. The story is told both in english and spanish and details the richness and purpose of the holiday. It’s a great companion to any Day of the Dead art lesson.

Fifth grade Day of the Dead artwork…



This post contains affiliate links.


  1. This is seriously cool. I love the way you have combined the marigolds and skeletons, the colors and shapes work so well! :)Elizabeth

    Elizabeth - Dream Painters

    October 30, 2012

  2. These are great! LOVE them and LOVE day of the dead!


    November 9, 2012

  3. Did your students use a template? Did they have a hard time getting the proportions correct? These are great!


    October 8, 2013

    • Hi Rebekah,
      No tracers. I demonstrated how the bones in the body were proportioned by doing a demo on the board. Then the kids drew all of the individual bones on a piece of white paper and tore them off.

      Patty Palmer

      October 8, 2013

  4. What a great lesson….tearing paper has proven to be most difficult for some students…this is a wonderful way to press the issue of using both hands to control the tear

    maggie hornung

    October 13, 2013

  5. Hi Patty, how did you get your students to draw a skeleton correctly? My 5th grade students had a very difficult time drawing the bones in proportion. I decided to give each student a copy of a template I came up with of all the bones drawn to the correct proportion. My students were able to tear out the bones successfully.

    James Zeger

    October 14, 2014

    • I got a book from the library that showed a real skeleton, then as I was demo-ing the project, we talk about the different sections of the skeleton (head, spine, ribs, hip bone, arms, legs, etc). We didn’t focused on being correct, just moderately accurate!

      Patty Palmer

      October 14, 2014

  6. Ohhhhh I wish I had the book! We are trying this today after finishing up our dia de Los muertos model magic calaveras….which came out sooooooo cute. These two projects will make a great pair displayed! Thanks, love your blog. I have an art school in rural Montana, and we do a lot of your projects! 🙂 super fun

    Katie Coyle

    October 15, 2014

  7. Hi Patty,
    I been looking at this on for awhile. My students have a hard time cutting but decided to try it this year. Going to add neon paper scraps for confetti to make it a real party:) Wish me Luck! As always great idea!!


    October 24, 2015

    • Best reason to try it is to help with the cutting skills. This is why we do the type of projects. Glad you’re going for it!

      Patty Palmer

      October 25, 2015

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *