How to draw a Calavera for Dia de los Muertos

The Day of the Dead is celebrated on November first and second. No, it's not "Mexican Halloween". That couldn't be farther from the truth. It is a tradition that can be traced as far back as the Aztecs.

To put it simply, it is a time to remember your loved ones that have gone on before you.

Some people honor their deceased with altars and ofrendas, or offerings. This is where people get really creative. They decorate it with cempasúchitl, or marigolds...favorite things like toys (for little children) or their favorite drinks, food, pictures, artwork, music. Even pillows and blankets are laid out for their loved ones to be comfortable on their long journey.

Jose Guadalupe Posada was a well-known Mexican engraver and illustrator. His work has long been associated with Dia de los Muertos and it is what inspired me to begin this project. My boys loved drawing skulls, of course!

  • You will need a 9 X 12 sheet of black Pacon 9 x 12 Construction Paper or Poster Board will do. I preferred the construction paper because it had a little bit of texture to it.
  • Allow kids to sketch lightly with a pencil. I worked on my own sugar skull alongside them so they were able to get an idea of how to draw it.
  • Pass out Pentel Arts Oil Pastels and encourage kids to create unique shapes and designs in the background.
  • When they are finished coloring it in, instruct kids to outline in black oil pastel. This makes the colors pop.
  • Color pencils could be used on top of the oil pastels to create even more depth of line and shapes.
The artwork above was created by a fifth grader.

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  1. I love this project, and will have to try it with Zoe! We have adopted Dia de los Muertos as a holiday in our own home, and this is a perfect way to help teach Zoe more about this tradition. Thank you.

  2. love it! I am hoping to incorporate this into my art lesson about frida kahlo. (;


Artistically speaking....

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