Dia de los Muertos and Alebrijes

Grade Range:  2-8

Class time: 1 hour – 3 days (can be differentiated)

Subject Areas:  Art, History, ELA, Science, Technology 

Overview:  Students can engage in multiple activities  to learn about Dia de los Muertos and Alebrijes before creating their own creature.

Essential Question:  How can we create our own Alebrije?

Coco Activates

  • Watch the movie Coco with your students or have them watch it during off screen time. This is a great Pixar movie that focuses on Mexican culture, Dia de los Muertos and family.  The main character, Miguel’s great great grandmother has an Alebrije in the land of the dead.  This is an excellent way to introduce the topic!
  • Coco is currently on Disney + if you have a subscription. If you do not want the students to watch the film, below is a link to the preview of the movie and have students discuss if they have seen it or not.
  • Here is a link to Coco Movie Questions, these are very basic and general to keep kids engaged when watching, or they can be given as a follow up. These questions are written for students in grades 3-5, feel free to create your own version that is more appropriate for your students. NOTE: The link has the answers at the bottom- please do not share this link directly with students.

Dia De Los Muertos Resources

  • This is an amazing animated short film (3 minutes) without words that shows a little girl on Dia De Los Muertos.
  • The video below is 18 minutes long and goes into the history of the Day of the Dead with more detail:

Alebrije Resources

  • Read over the Alebrijie wiki page
  • Here is a great 9 minute video about Alebrijes:

CMSD TEACHERS: If you would like to continue this project when students are back in the classroom, please reach out to sarah wallace at sarah.wallace@clvelandmetroschools.org to work out how we can bring your students alebrijes to life!

Extension Activities:

After the students create their animals it is up to the teacher to expand on the activity the following are some ideas that would work.  Please let the MFL team know if you think of anything that should be added to this list!

ART: have students decorate their creatures. They can do it in a variety of styles  or mediums to make it more interesting and rigorous rather than just having them color it.  Possible styles could be: 

  • Show examples of Alebrijes and have students decorate their sculptures with markers or paints in the same motif.-  Talk about Perdo Linares- the artist who created Alebrijes.
  • Ancient egypt- have kids look up ancient egyptian hieroglyphs to get color ideas, they could also try to draw the hieroglyphs onto the creatures themselves. 
  • Famous artists- have each student (or in groups) choose (or you can assign) a famous artist and have them decorate their creature in that style. 
  • Animal- have the kids decorate each part of the creature correctly for that specific animal part

HISTORY:  have students research the role of the Sphinx in ancient egyptian, roman, greek and Asian cultures.  They can do a compare and contrast assessment of how the different cultures saw the creature. 


  • have students look up the scientific names to each of the animals that make up their creature.  Then have them create a scientific name for their made up creature that incorporates the original animal names. 
  • Have students determine what type of animal their creature would be (mammal, amphibian, herbivore, omnivore etc), what type of environment would it need to live in and what characteristics might it have.


  • have students write a myth  or fable that goes along with their creature. 
  • Students give their creature magical powers and create a comic of it being a superhero
  • Students can work in small groups to write a play in which their creatures are the actors (they can also be attached to strings to turn them into simple puppets)

Please take pictures of the work you do after the MFL visit and send them to the MFL team along with any anecdotal information about who the project went.  Or, if you combine a few of the extensions and have the students present their work, please invite the MFL team!

Additional Resources: 

Sphinx Videos:

Hour long Ancient History documentary on the Riddle of the Sphinx– goes into how it was built

Two minute long documentary about the spinx- better for older kids 

Four minute long documentary about the riddle of the spinx by a sesame street puppet

Five minute documentary- History for Kids

Hour long NOVA documentary 

$3 Teacher pay Teachers worksheet that goes along with the video

 Spinx Coloring pages:

Google image search of Sphinx Coloring Page

K-5 Learning Sphinx Worksheet packet (grade 3-5)

Follow up Sphinx questions

wooJR greek mythology worksheets and coloring pages FREE to print!


4th-7th grade chapter books: Secret of the Sphinx

1-4th grade story book: How the Sphinx got into the museum

Kid’s Ancient History book: Great Sphinx of Giza

2nd-5th grade graphic novel: Secret of the Sphinx

ADVANCED: Mensa Mythology unit

Alebrije Resources: 

AMAZING post on Alebrijes with LOTS of links!

Crayola Sculpture lesson