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Dia de los Muertos

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In Disney/Pixar’s Coco, an aspiring young musician, Miguel, travels to the land of his ancestors to learn more about his families’ stories and traditions on Dia de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). The Day of the Dead is a Mexican celebration also celebrated in parts of Latin America and the United States, with the practice going back thousands of years in South American cultures. This multi-day celebration brings together family and friends to honor and remember family ancestors with many traditional elements like calaveras (decorative skulls), Aztec marigolds, and cut paper decorations called papel picado. Celebrations typically begin around All Saints Day and continue through All Souls Day, October 31st through November 2nd. Although this celebration takes place around the Halloween holiday, it is important to honor and respect the many differences of the two.

This year, take some time to learn more about the varied history and practices around Dia de los Muertos and consider your own cultural celebrations and traditions. Explore your family history and learn more about the celebrations of your ancestors.

Move More

Family traditions are celebrated throughout Dia de los Muertos, and often reflect the things loved most by ancestors. In Coco, Miguel learns that his love for music originated with his great great grandfather and is an important part of his life today. Think about how music and other things you enjoy might be connected to your ancestors. Get your brain (and body) moving with some of the activities below!

Rubber Band Guitar


  • Carboard box (pizza, cereal or tissue)
  • 6 rubber bands
  • Recycled paper towel roll
  • Scissors


  1. Have an adult cut one large hole on the front of the box (if not a tissue box). You can trace this from an old CD, lid, etc.
  2. Make a small hole on the side of the box by tracing the end of the paper towel roll.
  3. Slide the paper towel roll into the small hole on the side of the box.
  4. Carefully stretch the rubber bands over the box on either side of the paper towel roll.
  5. Decorate and play away!

Dance to the Music

Musical Statues (A classic game that can be played with one or more people.)

  • Listen to the Coco soundtrack and dance away to the music. When the music stops you must FREEZE! Try not to giggle or wobble! When the music starts again, it’s time to keep moving!

Move Like the Music (This is a great way to consider emotions and feelings through creative movement.)

  • Listen to different songs from the Coco soundtrack and talk about how it makes you feel.
  • Talk about the actions that go with these emotions and move like the music. A happy song can make you feel bouncy or boppy. If the song is slow, you might want to sway. Encourage students and staff to have fun and explore a variety of movements.

Create Your Own Rhythm

  • Gather different materials that can be used as instruments (example: push brooms, pencils, two pieces of paper rubbed together, etc.). Get creative! Explore the different sounds you can make with the objects around you.
  • Break up into small groups or pairs and work together to create your own rhythms. How can you create different sounds that make you feel different emotions? Try making loud versus quiet or quick versus slow sounds… or a combination of both and see what you can create!

Eat Better

Colorful Fruit Salad

Dia de los Muertos traditions and celebrations are full of vibrant, beautiful colors. Each color has a different meaning. Pink, for example, means happiness and yellow means sun and unity. Fuel up with a healthy fruit salad and think about what each color means to you!

Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

  • 2 red apples, cored and diced
  • 2 pears, cored and diced
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 4 clementine oranges, peeled and separated into segments
  • 3 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced and quartered
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 tbsp lime juice


  1. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle with lime juice, mix and serve.


In Coco, Miguel learned about his great grandparents’ lives and about how significant music was to his family’s history. Ask students to invite parents, grandparents or other family members to come in for an Ancestor Day at school and, together, share stories about their culture and family history.

Make Ancestor Day an even bigger event by inviting families to bring in a healthy snack from their culture to share with other students in class or at lunch.

Send out a call for parents or family members who are talented musicians and invite them to come in and add their own live music to the Dance to the Music ideas above!