Dancing Skeleton Puppets
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
- Unit Plan:
- Learn the importance of having bones
- Identify the different bones that we have in our body
- Learn about the Mexican tradition Day of the Dead
- Learn how to make a skeleton and decorate it
- 6" white paper plates
- White lunch size paper bag
- Four pieces of 1 1/2" x 4" pieces of white paper for each student
- Black crayons
- Feathers, markers, sequins, and glitter.
Step 1: Before you read the story Day of the Dead by Tony Johnston, have students do a picture walk of the book (discuss what is going on in each picture). Then read the story to the students.
Step 2: Have students redraw their favorite picture from the book.
Step 3: Seat students in a share circle to show each other what they drew.
Step 4: Display pictures on the Day of the Dead bulletin board.
Step 1: Sing "Dem Bones" by Singlish. Point to each body part as it's mentioned in the song. Read Dem Bones by Bob Barner. Discuss why it is important to have bones.
Step 2: Have the students go back to their seats and on the desk have the small white paper plate, white bag and four pieces of 1 1/2" x 4" of white paper. Use the black crayon to make large dots for the eyes, a triangle for the nose, and a smiley-face for the mouth. (Look at the picture located above. Glue the paper plate to flap of the bag. Make sure the bag opens at the bottom so the students can use it as a puppet.) Down the center of the paper bag draw circles and on each side of the circles draw horizontal straight lines for the vertebrae. At the bottom of the white paper bag draw the hip bone with two circles at the bottom. (Look at the picture located above.)Take the four pieces of white paper and draw a straight line down each one. Draw straight lines for the fingers and toes. Glue on the pieces two of the pieces to the side of the bag and the other two pieces at the bottom. Recite each bone that was drawn.
Step 1: Read The Spirit of Tio Fernando by Janice Levy Discuss the story.
Step 2: Invite students to decorate their Day of the Dead skeleton puppets. They may use any craft item available. I provide feathers, glitter, sequins, and markers. This is a terrific project to have Big Friends help with. (See my blog entry Big Friends, Little Friends.) When the students are finished decorating, I have them tell their Big Friend one interesting fact about the Day of the Dead holiday.
Supporting All Learners
More advanced learners may label the different parts of the skeleton structure. English-language learners may be seated next to an English-only student. I would also bring in plastic bones and have the students try to put the pieces together. Together, we practice naming each bone.
- Make skeletons by using toothpicks, Q-tips, white chalk, and tongue depressor on black paper.
- Read the book Rattle Your Bones. Students use white chalk on black paper to draw silly skeletons doing funny things such as swimming or riding a motorcycle.
- Use oil pastels to draw pictures representing the Day of the Dead.
Invite parents to take children to a natural history museum to see real bones.
Practice naming the different bones and how they are connected to one another.
- Were the students able to follow directions when drawing the bones?
- Did the students get confused on identifying the bones?
- Were the students on task decorating their dancing skeleton with their Big Friend?
- Can the students tell one interesting fact about Day of the Dead to their Big Friend?
- Can the students identify the bones that have been taught, such as foot bone, ankle bone, leg bone, knee bone, thigh bone, hip bone, back bone, shoulder bone, neck bone, head bone?