Compare and Contrast Day of the Dead and Halloween
1 Hook/Attention Getter
Teacher shares a personal story about a special person in their life who has passed away. They share why this person was important to them, how they affected their life and why they will never forget them. Maybe, share a picture or a special item that symbolizes the person. To relate with the students, following this discussion, share a story about a lost pet that was an important part of your past. Allow students to share memories of special people and pets that have been a part of their lives. Students should share why this person or animal were important to them and how they made a difference in their lives.
Following the discussion, share the Time for Kids article "Oct. 31 is for family, not fright, in Mexico." This short article briefly introduces the Mexican celebration of The Day of the Dead.
Teachers can point out how different this cultural celebration is to our culture's treatment of death. It is unique to have a celebration to remember the special people in our lives, and it serves as a springboard to a discussion about the two celebrations - Halloween and The Day of the Dead.
Ask the children, "Why do you think there are two very different holidays center around death and darkness occurring in the fall at the same time?" The children should recognize that plants and natural world are dying and turning dormant for winter and through observations the ancient cultures used this time to honor and respect death and the unknown.
2 Direct Instruction
Pass out the article El Dia de los Muertos. Follow the Close Reading Guidelines. For the first read, allow the students to read the article independently (as best they can) without a pencil in their hand. When they have finished they should write one of two sentences explaining the authors main purpose. For the second read, the teacher should model annotating the text. At the conclusion of the second read, lead the class in a discussion about the text addressing any questions or comments. Finally, have the kids work in pairs to answer a few text dependent questions. Such as...
1. What is the origin of The Day of the Dead? Support your answer with text evidence.
2. What are two examples of a Day of the Dead celebration? Support your answer with text evidence.
3. What is the true purpose of a Day of the Dead celebration? Support your answer with text evidence.
Allow time for students to share their answers and the evidence from the text that supports their conclusions.
3 Direct Instruction
Here is a lesson I really like to introduce compare and contrast writing and the use of transition words. The nest vs. house example is wonderful and all kids get it.
4 Guided Practice
Students will work in pairs and watch four short videos about Halloween and the Day of the Dead. The first two are on the history of Halloween. If you do not have access to brainpop.com, click here to download a short article about Halloween. The second two are about The Day of the Dead. As the students watch the videos, they should record the important ideas and the cultural differences between the two holidays. This is an opportunity for the students to view a variety of multimedia presentations about the two holidays and to begin to build their own understanding about their history and relevance. If time permits, allow students to search for their own content about the holidays.
5 Independent Work
Students use classtools.net to create a Venn Diagram that compares and contrasts Halloween and The Day of the Dead on the site's interactive whiteboard.
Students print or save their work and use it as a guide for writing a paragraph comparing and contrasting the holidays.
Students share their opinions of the two holidays and defend which one they would most like to celebrate.
As fun culminating activities the class can create a Day of the Dead classroom altar to honor and remember the special people and animals in their lives. Follow the link here to get some good ideas and instructions.
Day of the Dead Extension activities and some art projects click here.
More cute and crafty art extension activities can be found here.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.
Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.
Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., for instance, in order to, in addition).
Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because).
d.Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.
Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.
Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Apply grade 4 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text [e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions].”).
Apply grade 4 Reading standards to informational texts (e.g., “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text”).