Ofrendas para el Día de los Muertos

For those of you getting ready for El día de los muertos, here’s a project I do with my 1B’s.  The students LOVE this project. The students in the younger grades look forward to it and it is always something they remember fondly for years to come!

When I teach cultural topics I like for the students to create something from the target culture or from their experience in lessons, that way it wasn’t just a “cultural Friday” type of activity.  For el día de los muertos, I have the students create altars or ofrendas in honor of a deceased Hispanic celebrity.  It’s great because not only do the students learn about a famous Hispanic they get to experience hands on (to some extent) the process that goes into making an ofrenda for someone who has passed away.

The first thing I have them do is research a deceased Hispanic celebrity.  Students get a person from a list I have created at random.  They then research where the person was from, about their life and why they were famous.  After learning about el día de los muertos, I then present the project to them.  I show them images of the shoebox ofrendas previous classes have made and explain to them that they will create an ofrenda for the person they studied.  Their task is to not only create an ofrenda, but create it in honor of that person- thinking about what items they can place on the altars that really represent their person of study.  Here are some examples!

What do they need to make the ofrendas?  They need a shoebox and some creativity! Some students buy little scrapbooking stickers, use clay, toys, and images to use on their altar.  The flowers they use are usually from a craft store and they some how find battery powered candles to put their too (since I won’t allow the real thing). The final product is what you see in the slideshow, plus they do a small write up of who their person was and why they put what they put on their altar. They do this in Spanish with sentence starters I help them with.

Here is my TPT for this project with a virtual option for those that are shorter on time or don’t have the space to put all these shoeboxes!

Want all things Día de los Muertos – see here or search my blog for some freebies and ideas!

Do you do something special to celebrate el día de los muertos? Sugar skulls? Calacas?

Encanto de Disney y los animales típicos de Colombia

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am beyond excited for Disney’s new animated film Encanto. Set in Colombia, Encanto is a film about a magical family.

The trailer is OOOZING with all things Colombian and my brain is going in all directions thinking about how I can use this film in my Spanish classes. My family is Colombian, so I am of course so proud but also quite impressed with how Disney stepped it up and made this so authentic.

Our curriculum is a work in progress. We don’t really define our teaching methods as one way or another but instead consider our Spanish department to be a nice fusion of culturally focused, proficiency based and desk-less (pre-covid) pedagogy. Last year we added language to grade 6 (we are a 6-8 school) so we have been working on moving units around and creating new ones. Our year 2 students focus quite a bit on animals and ecosystems in Science so we thought it would be cool to do something that made a connection with that. Of course with novice students we are limited in the language we can use so we decided a unit on ECOTURISMO would be cool to explore! We plan on talking about places where students can do ecoturismo and what they can find in these places.

When I saw the Encanto trailer I knew it would be a perfect hook to get students talking about the animals in the trailer and to jump start our unit! In just 2 or so minutes the following animals that are native to Colombia (and other parts of South America too) appear.

  • El Chigüiro
  • El Tapir
  • El Coatí
  • El Jaguar
  • El Tucán
  • La Guacamaya

We started off with our trailer review (see previous Encanto post) and then jumped right into focusing on the animals present in the trailer and some of their basic characteristics. Here are some examples!

We also talked about size, color and characteristics for these two and three other animals all while students took notes on a note sheet for animals from Colombia and Ecuador.

Do you do an animal unit? What is it centered around?

Check out my TPT store for this activity on an editable google slide show!

Day of the Dead Bulletin boards

Over the past few years I began collecting Day of the Dead decorations and most of them have come from Target!

Yes! Target for the win and each year they seem to come out with even cooler things!

Here are my boards for this year.

The background is just bulletin board paper, the postcards were left behind from retired teachers, the calavera posters are from an old calendar and everything else is Target. The papel picado and flores de cempasúchil have a battery pack and light up for a cool effect!

These last two are for my photo booth. Target had a photo booth kit for DOD! it came with the background you see on the board as well as the props. I plan on doing some fun photo booth pics next week!

Do you decorate for DOD? Show me your rooms!

¡Contra el reloj!

Do you need a fun new way to practice vocabulary BUT don’t want it to involve a computer screen? Don’t get me wrong I LOVE all things Gimkit and Kahoot but I really want to try to get away from the screens – especially after the year and half that we’ve had with everything online.

Contra el reloj or beat the clock is just that. The students receive a prompt and have to race the clock and write the answer before the time is up. I use 15 seconds but you can use 20, 30 or even 60 second timers if you want depending on the level of your students and task at hand.

Click here for a quick video example

Since I am working on updating our Day of the Dead unit I have created one that you can find on TPT!

What non-screen vocab games do you play in class?

City talk!

My students love exploring and learning about new places. One really cool way to do this is through virtual tour websites. I typically will do this as a part of my daily routine.

This all started during online teaching when I was able to change my backgrounds. I would have the students try to guess where I was and would give them the prompt Señora… ¿Usted está en…? The students would have to guess what Spanish-speaking country I was in. It then expanded to having the students describe in a Peardeck the things they saw in my background. I also discovered virtual websites I could do the same in (more below). Students not only learned city/nature vocabulary they also learned some directional words (está a la derecha de, enfrente de, etc.) and all the Spanish-speaking countries!

When we returned to in-person learning I missed this activity so I decided to use my bitmoji – not the same as “seeing” me in those places but close enough!

I project this on the screen and students take turns guessing where I am. Once they’ve done that I have them discuss in pairs all the things they see using a guide similar to this one below (get your own copy here). Yes the guide has some English but I only speak to them in Spanish and prompt them to describe it in Spanish. I have found that with the reference guides/sheets and lots of repetition and recycling I don’t need to speak to them in English and their retention is very high.

Aside from changing the background of my slides to an image of different location I also use the following virtual sites. Several of these feature Spanish-speaking countries which is really cool for them to see, others don’t but they still get the speaking practice. They like it SO much that often times my planned activities get put to the side because they don’t want to stop!

  1. Drive and Listen: Shot out to the girls over at http://www.creativelanguageclass.com for this incredible share. This site “drives” you through various cities all over the world all while tuning in to local radio stations!
  2. Virtual Vacation: This site has different options to choose from – walking tours, driving tours, flying tours and a live cam! It also has background noise too so not only can students describe what they see but what they hear as well!
  3. Window Swap: Look through the window of homes around the world.

If you like the activities above check out this scene talk handout in my TPT store that you can print as a reference sheet for students to have in their binders and/or print out as a poster!


I am SO excited about Disney’s new animated film Encanto! From what I can see from the trailer, Disney has done a wonderful job at creating a film that is authentically colombian – and with an all Latino cast! From the scenery to the arepitas de queso and the use of the word “bacano” this is truly a Colombian dream!

This film is about The Madrigals, who are a special family who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia in a charmed place called the Encanto (or enchanted).

From the moment I saw the trailer I knew I had to find a way to use it in my classes! This year we are doing a new unit on Ecotourism where we plan on talking about flora and fauna from different parts of Latin America. I plan on using two trailers as a hook to get the kids talking and interested! I plan on using the trailer and this movie guide to get the students talking about their initial impressions of the trailer.

Here are the two trailers I plan on using:

I can’t wait for the film’s release and to use it in class! Do you use films in class? Which are your favorite?

Want more activities to do with these trailers? Check out my TPT store for more activities!

Canciones para el día de los muertos

One of my goals this year is to use music more consistently. I found that I had some great songs for certain topics but that I wasn’t consistently using music as I should. Last year I tried Locura de Marzo for the first time and it was such a HIT!!! The students love listening to songs, learning the lyrics and giving their opinions of the songs so I thought… why not?

With el día de los muertos coming up and our DDM unit I thought I’d go on the hunt for songs I can use for this unit. I found several I liked but narrowed it down to 8 so that I can do a quick bracket competition with all of my classes.

Here is a Spotify Playlist – some of these songs are older but they’re still great and such a wonderful opportunity to showcase the different musical genres throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

My FAVORITE song is Mis Muertos by Julieta Venegas

Check out this FREEBIE – Song/Video describing reference sheet. (print and have students keep in their binders/folders for easy access) My students take this out when we’re listening to a new song and share their thoughts on the song and/or video.

If you like this and want more check out my TPT store for access to the whole bracket bundle!


El otoño… without a doubt my favorite time of the year! I love the crisp air, fall festivities, my birthday… and of course being back in a routine!

One of my favorite units of all time is of course El día de los muertos. It is such a beautiful celebration and the students are so curious to learn about it.

I have been trying to incorporate more and more #authres into the curriculum and love using as much music as I can. I’ve jumped on the bracket wagon and my kids love commenting on and voting for their favorites. The students are so opinionated and get so passionate about the songs they like and don’t.

I created a Locura del día de los muertos bracket and am so excited to use towards the end of the month as part of my DDM unit.

Here are the deets…

There are 8 songs and 8 accompanying activities. Each day I will show them a slide with a small blurb about the artist/band and have them listen to the song, give their opinion and do the song activity. At the end of each match up the students will vote on a google form and follow along on a bulletin board bracket I will create (will post soon!)

Here are some freebies! I hope you enjoy them!

Recuérdame by Natalia Lafourcade song activity sheet

Spotify Playlist

Song/Video describing reference sheet. (print and have students keep in their binders/folders for easy access)


If you like these activities check out the whole Locura del día de los muertos packet on TPT!

Anuncios de San Valentín

I LOVE using anuncios in class – probably way more than my students do, but it is a fantastic way to expose your students to authentic language, different accents and sometimes culture too! Here are some for El día de San Valentín that I came across. This year, because of how our winter break falls, we won’t get to them but maybe you can find a good use for them! I’d love to hear about it if you do 🙂


Infografías para el día de amor y amistad

Infographics are a great way to present new concepts to students as well as a way to do authentic reading in the target language.  Here are a two of my favorites for el día de amor y amistad. Do you use infographics in class? How?

¿Qué regalar en el Día de Amor y Amistad?

Resultado de imagen para que regalar en el dia de amor y amistad infografia

¿Cómo celebran el amor en distintos países?

infografía del 14 de febrero