This one you can find read aloud on YouTube!!! Grab a set of bean bags if you don’t already have some, and let the kids practice balancing “apples” on top of theirs heads as you read the book. It’s so much fun for practicing counting in Spanish! And if they fall down you can practice saying “¡Se cayeron!” (seh kah-YEH-rohn) They fell down!
Here’s a fun apple toy set to practice colors, counting, sorting by shape!
You can find some good videos on YouTube to help you introduce this concept as well.
YouTube Videos About Apples
Go with Blippi to see how apples are harvested then cleaned and packaged to be sold at the store! This video is a great companion to the book Ana cultiva manzanas above, since in that story she grows the apples and then takes them to the city market!
Blippi videos are great for babies through ages 6-7. He’s a little silly, so he may not be everyone’s favorite, but I love how his exaggerated motions really aid in picking up on the language. The Spanish videos are dubbed, so his mouth doesn’t match the sounds, but I think these are still great for learning Spanish. What do you think?
Spanish Playground has two awesome videos about apples for Spanish learners! One more for beginners (I’d say perfect for ages 4-8), and another for intermediate learners.
I used to think that I needed to be able to do an entire activity in Spanish, or I shouldn’t do it at all. Doing this Spanish shapes pumpkin activity the other day with my 4yo (that I didn’t prep or plan ahead for) helped me to remember that little consistent steps are better than inconsistent big steps.
Learning shapes in Spanish is a type of lesson that can feel very approachable for families beginning Spanish. First, because it can be really easy on the parent (or teacher) to talk and learn about shapes spontaneously, and two, it’s a fairly simple concept to grasp, so beginning learners can comprehend and experience minimal frustration. My kids stay engaged in our Spanish lessons if we are having fun and they are understanding what I’m saying.
Last week we learned about shapes in Spanish with PUMKINS!! It turned out to be an easy and fun activity, so I’m sharing it with you here. You can pull this activity off if you have orange paper, or an orange crayon or marker! Of course you can add more supplies and embellishments than that, I just love to remind parents we can keep activities extremely simple and still have effective learning taking place.
I made a quick shape template to help us cut out nice shapes from our orange paper. You can download one for yourself at the end of this post.
Next we cut out yellow triángulos for the eyes, and toothless grins for the mouths. If you are drawing your pumpkins, you can leave white spaces for eyes and mouths, or use a black or yellow marker or crayon. Use whatever you have on hand and don’t worry about it! Preschoolers love spending time with you and having fun…they are not worried about finished products. 🙂
Here’s how ours turned out. As you can see here we had an opportunity to talk about all these shapes, plus the colors orange, yellow, and green (can you tell some of the stems are green?).
I put mine in a pumpkin patch (calabazar) by folding a dark green paper in half to cut three slits. Then I glued that around the edges to another piece of green paper. Now the pumpkins can be taken in and out to be played with.
My 4yo decided to put his calabazas in a haunted house (una casa embrujada). So then we also got to talk about the colors black and gray! To be clear, we did most of this activity in English, and then used the Spanish words for the colors and shapes when we could. We also used the word calabaza instead of saying pumpkin. Baby steps, right?
I always want to try to help you and your family as much as I can so Spanish learning can feel easy and fun in your own home! I’ve put together a little vocabulary guide of Spanish shape words, and phrases you can use to learn those shape words. The title is also linked to a playlist I created on YouTube with some of our favorite shape songs. You can also download the shape template if you need (which could be used for other shape learning activities besides this pumpkin one).
One last thing. I wrote a mini-story about the different-shaped pumpkins that you could draw your pumpkins on if you prefer. It might be easier for parents who don’t speak Spanish to use this, then you can talk about the pumpkins in full sentences without relying on your own Spanish knowledge. There is a pronunciation guide in the back to help you read the story aloud.
Let me know if you try this activity at home!! You can tag me with your photos on Instagram (I’m @fortheloveofspanish), or post them to my Facebook page. It makes my day to see you all learning Spanish alongside us!!
When I set out to make this list, I had NO IDEA how many great books were out there to celebrate Day of the Dead. It just took a little bit of digging. Between Amazon and my local library’s card catalog I have found for you all of the must-read picture books (and more!) for Day of the Dead.
You probably know by now, books are our favorite way to learn and celebrate around here. I have so much fun making these Spanish picture book lists, especially because I always come away with more books in my library holds list that are new to me! I hope you enjoy these as much as I do, and if you have any to add, be sure to let me know about them in the comments!!!
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A fun story adaptation of the traditional rhyming kids song from Costa Rica where the calaveras come out of their tombs every hour. Learn how to tell time and explore the themes of Día de los muertos in the illustrations. (Bilingual)
Señor Calavera comes to Grandma Beetle’s door, but she’s not quite ready. She stalls him number by numer: “Just ONE more house to sweep . . . Just TWO pots of tea to boil . . .” Not specifically a Día de los muertos book, but has the same images and themes as the holiday in the illustrations. (Bilingual)
Señor Calavera is on his way to Grandma Beetle’s birthday party. But on the way Grandpa Zelmiro catches him to make sure he gets a present for Grandma Beetle. Señor Calavera ends up bringing a present for every letter of the alphabet! Lots of fun Spanish words to learn with this book!!
Día de los muertos
by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
Illustrated by Carlos Ballesteros
Another rhyming book! Take a walk through this small village from sun up to sun down and learn about all the symbols and festivities of Day of the Dead. There is a glossary in the back for all the Spanish words sprinkled throughout the text. This is a great first introduction to the holiday for little ones who haven’t got to experience it yet! Lots of details and information, but simple enough to understand.
Have you ever heard of La Catrina or La Pelona or La Flaca? Perhaps you have noticed these comical squeleton figures dressed as the living at Day of the Dead celebrations? Funny Bones tells the story of how the calavera figures came to be through the art and invention of José Guadalupe Posada, a political cartoonist in Mexico during the late 1800s.
We have this one on hold at the library! I can’t wait until it comes in for a number of reasons! My 8yo loves graphic novels (he wants to be a cartoonist when he grows up!), and this particular one about family and friendship tells the story of a family that moves to northern California for one of the sisters who has Cystic Fibrosis. Upon their arrival they encounter ghosts and the holiday celebrated in that area: Día de los muertos! We also have a family member that has Cystic Fibrosis and we are learning about Mexico and Day of the Dead right now . . . so this should be a very relatable story.
Mama Alma walks through the garden with her Grandaughter Bella teaching her about the “Remembering Day” or Día de los muertos and asks that her family always honors her memory on this day after she is gone. Pat Mora always delivers wonderful stories that contribute to the celebration of Hispanic heritage. (Bilingual)
A young girl helps her family prepare for Day of the Dead. She is especially looking forward to remembering her grandfather who recently passed away. One neat addition to this book are the extension activities it suggests: you can learn how to make a butterfly mobile (the butterflies are thought to represent the returned spirits of loved ones) and atole, a corn-meal based chocolatey drink usually shared this time of year. (Bilingual)
English rhyming text tells tenderly about that Day of the Dead traditions. The real treat is the audio version with traditional guitar music you can buy to accompany the text! A similar read to the one above (Roseanne Greenfield Thong), except this is a bilingual text rather than a English-Spanish integrated text.
I looooove this one! Brightly colored, realistic illustrations show how a small town in Mexico has been preparing for weeks for this special celebration. Many Spanish phrases are repeated throughout the text as well, which makes this one a great Spanish-learning book too! You might recognize the authors name from other great books like P is for Piñata: A Mexico Alphabet or My Abuelita or The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote.
Looking for some fun activities to do for Day of the Dead? This book offers lots of things to do! Crossword puzzles, punch-out 3D paper crafts, trivia and more. We haven’t tried this one but the reviews on Amazon are pretty shining.
Do you have any Boxcar Children fans in your house? I do! My kids always think it’s neat when lots of things we’re doing line up or have the same theme. I just put this one on hold at our library so we can learn about this holiday through some of our favorite characters Benny, Jesse, Violet, and Henry.
This story sounds like a fun one! A young skeleton boy from the Land of the Dead gets lost in the Land of the Living. At first he is afraid of the humans with “bulging eyes and squishy skin,” but soon he finds a friend who happens to be alive! The two help each other out in a fun Day of the Dead adventure.
An oldie but a goodie. This story was inspired by the artist Don Pedro Linares who became famous all over Mexico for his papier-mâché calaveras. Read from A-Z about all the things Pedro makes and does for Day of the Dead celebrations.
Called a “bilingual primer” on the Day of the Dead, this cute story for younger readers tells about the big celebration from the perspective of the skeletons! One thing I love about this story is that it was written originally IN SPANISH and published in Mexico. *heart eyes*
At dusk the skeletons come out to celebrate Day of the Dead. Join them in the fiesta of food, dancing, and music. Geared more for younger readers, this book is more about the colorful pictures than the text.
We loooove Canticos board books! Canticos is a Nick Jr. company that promotes learning of Hispanic heritage nursery rhymes, finger plays, and songs. This book is based on the same Costa Rican song mentioned at the beginning of this booklist. Super fun for all ages!!
Not a Day of the Dead book per se, but definitely a great addition to this list. Little bitty readers will enjoy this book, or beginning Spanish learners. Meet all the members of the skeleton family (and practice names for family members in Spanish) that looks not too unlike any other family. 😉 What makes this book stand out are the photographs of Oaxacan artist Jesus Zárate’s papier-mâché folk art.
I can’t lie. Some of the illustrations in this book creep me out. Haha! But overall this looks like a great book with diverse characters and good explanations of the holiday. I wanted to include it because it’s a newer release and it’s a board book! It’s never too early to expose kids to other cultures around the world.
For our youngest of readers! These sweet Catrina illustrations are the perfect first-encounter with
Day of the Dead imagery AND expressing emotions. Lil’ Libros has built such a great company that puts so much thought into first books for Latinos! Also a great read for Spanish learners!
Written in chapter book style, this book introduces geography and Day of the Dead facts alongside the central story where Daniela talks about her Grandpa whom she misses as she sets up an altar in his memory.
Of course we can’t leave out a book from the Disney-Pixar film that brought this beautiful Mexican holiday into the mainstream consciousness of the United States. I’m getting choked up just thinking about this movie and the wonderful look it gives on the beauty of family and remembering.
What gorgeous illustrations this book has!!! Definitely take a peek on Amazon at the beautiful illustrations showing how Maria and her family celebrate the Days of the Dead celebrations. The book also has a recipe for pan de muerto to try!
Where would we be without ancestors? This book helps us take a meaningful look at why this holiday is so important, why it’s important to remember and celebrate those who have come before us. It’s also all in Spanish which would be great for intermediate learners!
We just came home from the library with this one! I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but I skimmed it and I’m excited to read it with the kiddos! This October we have seen SO MANY monarch butterflies on their way through to Mexico . . . it has been so magical. This story begins with Lupita announcing that the butterflies have arrived. Her uncle teaches her that they must never harm or catch the monarchs because they are the souls of their dearly departed. Soon her uncle passes away and the festivities of Día de los muertos begins. Lupita makes an altar for her departed uncle and the town goes to the cemetery to remember their loved ones. A somber tale of losing loved ones, but the ending has brings a little hope to a heavy heart.
It looks like this one might be hard to buy or find at your library (at least when I checked!), but thankfully you can find it read aloud on YouTube. A story about two twin girls, one in the land of the living, one from el otro lado. Rosita is worries, as she sees others going to meet their families, that her twin sister has forgotten about her. But Conchita her sister can never forget! She fixes Rosita’s favorite foods, plays her favorite music, lays out flowers to help lead the way . . . and after a long journey of feeling lost, Rosita finally finds her way to her sister Conchita.
The Book of Life
Rated: PG (for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images)
Manolo comes from a long line of bullfighters and his family has great expectations for him, but his heart is set on music. Before he decides which path he will take, he is face with a journey through three fantastical worlds where he must face his biggest fears. I am waiting my turn to borrow this one from the library, so I am not sure, but I’m guessing you can watch this movie in Spanish. The reviews I have read say it’s a really artistic and charming story with themes of the Día de los muertos holiday and all its traditions. I bet you can watch this movie in Spanish, and if you turn on the Spanish subtitles you could count this as reading AND Spanish practice. 😉 You’re welcome.
Young Miguel dreams of being a musician someday, unfortunately his family has long had a ban on music. He steals a guitar to sneak playing some music and finds himself in the Land of the Dead and befriending a trickster named Hector who is looking for a way to get to the Land of the Living. Together they both discover mysteries behind their own stories and learn just how strong family ties can be and how powerful the love they hold. And like I mentioned above, if this needs to count as reading, just turn on the subtitles! 😉
It’s Día de los muertos and little Frida and Diego start their Day of the Dead adventure in a candy store preparing for the day’s festivities. An exciting turn of events happens and they find themselves in the País de las calaveras . . . all written in Spanish with gorgeous and detailed illustrations this would be a treasure to own . . . celebrating Day of the Dead with two of the most celebrated Mexican artists.
Publishers Weekly calls this an awkward and clumsy tale, that is saved by the “warm” and “inventive” collage illustrations. School Library Journal calls is a special tale for opening up discussions of losing loved ones. The story begins, “Rosita and her grandmother spent every day together. Her mother was very busy, but Abuelita always had time for Rosita.” When Rosita’s grandmother dies, she misses her very much and the strong bond the two shared. Día de los muertos is a time when Rosita can honor and remember her grandmother fondly.
Wow! What a list!! Are there any I missed? Which ones are your absolute favorites? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂 And whether this year is your first year celebrating Day of the Dead, or if you’re just an observer, or if this holiday has strong roots in your family, my hope is that you will be able to enjoy at least a few of these books with your family this month! ¡Cuídense mucho!
Want to download this list at a PDF so it’s easier to look for them on Amazon or your Library’s website? Here ya go!
Día de los muertos is not a holiday I grew up celebrating. In fact, I hadn’t heard of it until I started teaching Spanish after college. Muerto or “dead” is a word we tend to tiptoe around in English, therefore if it’s your first time hearing about it, it might not sound like a happy or festive tradition, especially if you see all the skulls used for decorations.
In fact it is, like many things from Mexico, steeped in tradition and reverence for family, gathering, and the sharing of food. Día de los muertos is a holiday that celebrates the dearly departed or difuntos. Families set up altars in their homes with mementos and photos of their loved ones that have passed away, and ofrendas or offerings of their favorite foods. Some families set up their ofrendas in cemeteries and burn incense and candles and spread marigolds along the paths to lead their loved ones’ spirits back from the dead.
It can be hard to introduce a holiday to your kids that you don’t celebrate. How do you explain all the little traditions and meanings behind everything that has been passed down for years and years. Of course my answer is always books! Día de los muertosby Roseanne Greenfield Thong (pictured above) is the book we checked out from our library to learn more about the holiday, and it has been perfect for a first introduction. The text rhymes, it teaches some Spanish words throughout, and it walks you through all the celebrations and traditions that families partake in with simple explanations of the meanings behind them.
Depending on the ages or Spanish-speaking levels of your kids (or students) here are some articles and videos that help explain the holiday as well. I use the English ones for beginning students, and the Spanish ones for the more intermediate or advanced students (or for good practice for myself!)
I got this really neat Lotería game from the Shop Hola Amigo Etsy store. My 7yo and 8yo played with me and we had fun! Any time you can use a game for learning it’s a win for everyone. I was happy we were learning Spanish, and they were happy because I let them play for money! We got to learn the Spanish words for many elements of the holiday, and we also practice using some game-playing phrases.
I think this year I’m going to try to actually work with the kids to set up an altar. Even though our family’s beliefs are different from what the holiday practices, I still think it will be a neat learning experience to talk about the different symbols and elements. For the papel picado we’re going to go the easy route and make some from doilies. We already have some made from Hispanic Heritage Month that we made with friends, and the project was fun and simple enough we will probably do it again. I got the idea from Latinaish maaaany years ago! She has some really good posts about Day of the Day also.
If you would like to learn some Day of the Dead Spanish vocabulary, or would like help with some of the pronunciation of the words, I made a quick guide for you to download here. It would make a great companion to the videos and articles above, as well as any books you check out from the library about the holiday. What simple ways are you learning about or celebrating Día de los muertos this season? Check out all the learning and fun in the BLOG HOP below!!
Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to be hosting another blog hop for Day of the Dead! (Don’t miss our series from last year, 2017, and 2016!) Be sure to visit all the posts below for great ideas on sharing Day of the Dead with kids:
Fall holds so many great themes for reading. In this list of Spanish picture books I have chosen to highlight books with the themes of pumpkins & fall, as well as a few of my current favorites to go along with celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month!! You can also check out my book list of Barefoot Books that Celebrate Hispanic Heritage. Spanish Books About Hispanic Heritage
Oh my word. This book is amazing. You don’t need to say anything except, “It was written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales” and I’m sold. I have only read parts of this book by peeking inside on Amazon, and I have also seen parts from reviews on Instagram, but what I have seen is amazing. Yuyi Morales tells the story of her move to the United States from her home country, México. It’s the story of many, and so worth telling.
by Margarita Engle Eighteen poems about Hispanic figures of past and present—some famous, others not so famous. Each poem is accompanied by a beautiful portrait drawn by illustrator Rafael López. The back of the book also contains a small biographical paragraph about each figure represented in the book for readers to learn more about the lives of each.
by Carmen Lomas Garza I loooove this book. Author Carmen Lomas Garza has painted scenes from her childhood growing up in southern Texas, near the U.S./Mexico border. Each painting has a vignette to go along with it, describing the scene. Some scenes are from everyday life, and others from very special occasions. It’s such a lovely tribute to Hispanic culture, family, language, religion, and history.
Spanish Books About Pumpkins & Fall
La calabaza rodante (Ages 3+) by Junia Wonders Illustrated by Daniel Volpari One of those fun books where the phrases are repeated over and over again (great for language learning and comprehension!). Marla Pequeña’s pumpkin starts rolling down the road and all through the town without any signs of stopping. Marla follows it shouting for help along the way. La cosecha de calabazas – Pumpkin Harvest (Ages 4-7) by Calvin Harris Learn about how pumpkins grow on a vine, change colors, and how they are harvested. This book is part of a series called “Todo acerca del otoño” (All About Fall). Calabazas (Ages 5-8) by Jacqueline Farmer Illustrated by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes Paying tribute to the star of the fall season, the pumpkin, through this book kids can learn about where the pumpkin originated in use, how it grows, how it is used today and more fun facts. The illustrations are done with colored pencil giving this book a cozy and cheery feel. It also includes a list of websites where kids can go to learn more about the pumpkin! La viejecita que no le tenía miedo a nada (The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything) (Ages 4-8) by Linda Williams Illustrated by Megan Lloyd Here is a classic fall book that I was so happy to find in Spanish! Another entertaining tale that uses repetition. A little old lady sets out to collect some herbs and spices from the forest. She runs into some spooky things, but each time says “I’m not afraid of you!” Or is she? You can also find this book read aloud in Spanish on YouTube! Carlos and the Squash Plant (Ages 5-8) by Jan Romero Stevens Illustrated by Jeanne Stevens A silly tale about a boy who refuses to take a bath after working in the garden each day, and then a plant sprouts in all the dirt in his ear! Carlos learns a lesson about the importance of cleanliness, and that Mamá always knows best. 😉 In the back of the book, you can find a recipe for calabacitas traditionally cooked in the Southwestern United States. Sopa de calabaza (Ages 4-7) by Helen Cooper We’ve read this book in English and it is a great story about friendship. The three animals always make pumpkin soup together, but one day duck decides it’s time for something different. Thankfully the animals figure out a way to compromise and work through their differences. ¡El otoño ya está aquí! (Ages 5-6) by Albert Asensio Little squirrel Nin pays attentions to the signs and knows that fall is here! Bears are eating more, animals are getting their nests ready, leaves begin to fall. What other signs of fall does the forest have to tell? El otoño (Ages 4-8) by Julie Murray These books with simple text work well for kids who are learning Spanish! Talk about all the things that make us think of fall! Estamos en otoño (Ages 8-12) by Celeste Bishop Fun illustrations and a narrative-style text walk you through all the fun activities you can do in the fall: hayrides, raking leaves, and more! This post contains affiliate links. Read our Full Disclosure for more info.
Apples conjure up so much nostalgia for those of us in North America. Is it the same elsewhere in the world? This time of year means back-to-school, apples, apple orchards, apple picking, and in our house LEARNING ABOUT APPLES IN SPANISH of course!
Here we’ll show you some of the apple activities in Spanish that we have been up to! You can use apples for learning numbers in Spanish, colors in spanish, sizes in Spanish, and you can also learn about apples in Spanish!
My 3- and 4-year-old loved this one, and requested that I read it multiple times in a row. I really do like bilingual books because we can read it a few times in English, and then my kids don’t mind if I read it to them in Spanish.
Even better if they are phrases you can use all the time so your kids will get used to hearing them. For example, when you read the page pictured above you could say: “Did you know the word for apple tree in Spanish is manzano? ¿Cuántos manzanos hay? How many manzanos are there? ¡Contemos! Let’s count! Uno…dos…tres…”
Word for word, that’s an example of how I talk with my kids when we are reading a Spanish or bilingual book.
You can also simply point to the pictures you see on the pages and say things like, “¡Mira! Un pájaro.” (Look! A bird.)
One thing I really love about this book is how many learning themes can come from it. You can count how many apples you see, or how many apple trees she has in her orchard. Annie sorts through the apples and you could do an activity of sorting through apples of different colors. Annie takes her most beautiful apples to a farmer’s market. You could set up a pretend apple stand and play in Spanish with money. Kids can practice asking ¿Cuánto cuesta? (How much does it cost?) The possibilities are endless, and once you read the book I’m sure you’ll have many ideas come to you!
One quick and super easy activity you can do when learning about anything in Spanish is to tape the beginning letter of the word (or even tape the entire word) on a table or floor, and have your kids use found objects to build the letter. They can also simply trace the giant letter with their fingers. This works great for kids who are little and ready to learn letters and handwriting, but who still need more practice with fine motor skills. Making letters big keeps it fun and approachable for them.
Of course it would have been awesome if I had some sort of object that starts with the letter M, like these cute apple counters!
I wrote the word manzana on our blackboard, and we practiced saying it together. You could take this opportunity to practice the syllables of the word. Clap your hands once with each syllable.
We also talked about other words that start with M in Spanish. Like mariposa or mamá!
Next, I purchased this lovely printable from the Escuelita Montessori shop on Etsy. I went over it with my 7-year-old. As we learned the words on the poster, we found that part on a real apple as well. We also watched this sweet video on YouTube made by a boy about the parts of an apple and a peach.
The best part was eating it. 😉
Finally I made this little mini book about apples and colors: “Los colores de la manzana.” I like to make books that have repetitive sentences where one thing changes throughout. It also helps if it is silly! My kids don’t notice it’s a lesson if we are being silly!!
In this book we can practice using the indefinite article: a or an. In Spanish that is unawhen we’re talking about an apple because apple is feminine. The changing part in this phrase is the color word.
This page above says “A pink apple….A green apple.” So without even having to tell them, kids will be able to isolate the changing word and understand that it is the color, because the pictures reflect the change.
Kids also get to practice hearing how the adjective word comes after the noun in Spanish instead of before the noun like in English.
Then the story gets silly, and we get to have fun learning different ways to say, “That’s silly!” in Spanish.
Or on the last page we get to read how to say the work “Yuck!” in Spanish. And the last pages asks the child, What color of apple is your favorite? Kids can color in with whatever color they choose!
Of course I’m sharing this printable with you! And if you download it, there is a pronunciation and translation guide at the beginning. To print it in booklet form like this, you’ll just need to open the PDF with Adobe Reader, then change the print settings to booklet. Make sure you also have the settings set to print on both sides of the paper.