Red Trunk Project

sample Oaxaca trunk

Sample Lessons: OFRENDA, ALTAR FOR DAY OF THE DEAD

Support materials:

Unfolding triptych Day of the Dead altar for staging ofrenda

Mini Docs:
1) Footage from a Day of the Dead celebration.

2) How the ofrenda is assembled.

  • Have students name ways that their cultures remember or commemorate someone who has died. Teachers can show the ways in which famous people are sometimes commemorated with statues. What other forms do personal commemorations take? (e.g. photographs, tattoos, car decals, candles, etc). Why is it important to remember people, both the famous and the personal? What do all the methods of commemoration have in common? Compare these ideas to what is placed on an ofrenda. In pairs, have students make a list of everything on the ofrenda, and next to it write what they think its significance is to the person who died. Why might these objects be included on the ofrenda?  Where do you think the ofrenda is located in the house? What do you see that makes you say so? How does the ofrenda compare to other methods of commemoration from the students’ cultures?  (NYC SS 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6; SS Practices A, C)
  • Students can create their own ofrendas for someone important to them who has passed away. (NYS Arts 1, 2)
  • Research/explore how another civilization, such as Egyptians, Chinese, Nigerians, or Peruvians and explore how each commemorates their dead in the past as well as today. What does the continuity/lack of continuity of the tradition say about the culture? How are these observances similar to/different from Oaxacan ways of commemorating their dead? (NYC SS 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6; SS Practices A, C; Literacy.W.3.7; 3.8)

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Red Trunk Project

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Red Trunk Project