Dia De Los Muertos: Day Of The Dead Celebration

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 9.54.54 AMEl Dia de los Muertos or The Day of the Dead Celebration is a day dedicated to remembering loved ones who have passed by celebrating their lives with festivals, parades, food, and ofrendas (offerings). This celebration, that originated in Mexico, is celebrated November 1 and combines the beliefs about death of the Indigenous people, who believed that death is the passage to new life, is meshed with the Catholic traditions of All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2).

Dia de los Muertos is celebrated all over Latin America and even in some parts of the United States. Some celebrations take place in cemeteries where families create ofrendas with photos, marigolds, favorite items and foods of the deceased culminating with a picnic. Some ofrendas are created in homes often decorated with paper flowers, papel picado (paper banners cut into elaborate designs), sugar skulls or paper mache skulls, and food.

Some traditional food associated with the Day of the Dead Celebration are mole (chicken or pork cooked in a red chile sauce made with peanuts and chocolate) pan de muerto (bread made in the shape of bones or people), and sugar or chocolate made into the shape of skulls.

A calaca (Spanish word for skeleton) is made of wood, paper mache, candy and sugar. They are depicted as happy and dancing in honor of deceased relatives. Calacas have become very popular in art today and can be seen in modern art, movies, on t-shirts, and even painted on faces for Halloween.

This Mexican tradition teaches us that death is not a sad occasion, but rather a time to remember, celebrate, and honor our loved ones who have passed on.

Click here to make some of these Day of the Dead crafts for kids

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Jackie Guzman, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Halloween Health And Safety

iStock_000018142863SmallHow I Understand & Feel Seven months.jpgHalloween is such a fun time for both children and families! Dressing up, trick-or-treating and getting scrumptious treats is the highlight of the season. Halloween and the activities that usually surround it also present opportunities to keep in mind safety and health tips. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) – Family Health reminds us to keep these things in mind while enjoying the festivities:

  1. When trick or treating in the neighborhood, go with a group that includes friends and family.
  2. Be sure the costume is made of flame-retardant materials.
  3. Your costume/your child’s costume should fit well and not block your vision or cause you to stumble or fall.
  4. Use reflective tape or some other material that reflects lights from passing vehicles to help drivers see you in the dark.
  5. Take a flashlight along when you trick or treat.  This will help you see where you are going!
  6. At street crossings, look both ways for oncoming vehicles and cross when it is safe to do so.
  7. Visit only well-lit houses and those that you know who lives there.
  8. Inspect your treats before eating them.  Check for non-edible objects and materials.  Only accept and eat factory-wrapped treats, not homemade items.

What are you dressing or your kids dressing up as? Have a fun and safe Halloween this year!

Author: Leslie Crandall, Extension Educator | The Learning Child

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Tips For A Happy Healthy Halloween

CSpN9QGUcAAjpeY.jpgWith Halloween around the corner, grocery stores are coming out with sugary treats to hand out to the neighborhood children. Sweets such as candy and chocolate are full of sugar, high in calories, and lack many nutrients that children need. Although purchasing these sugar-filled treats may seem like the routine tradition to do on Halloween, there are other more healthful treat options to hand out to your local trick-or-treaters. Encouraging your community to have a healthy Halloween can be fun for both you and the children!

Be Creative With Food

hallloweenorangesHealthy foods, such as fruits, can be made into fun Halloween-themed treats. Mandarin orange cups or tangerines can be drawn on to look like jack-o-lantern faces. Or, decorate a the wrapper of string cheese like a ghost. These healthy treats provide fun, hands-on activities for your children!

Use Non-Food Treats

spiderringsWho said Halloween treats need to be edible? Local stores have great, non-food alternatives in bulk at the same cost as candy. Candy is there one minute and gone the next, but this list of non-food treats will bring hours of fun for children!

  • Spider rings
  • Halloween foam stickers
  • Halloween-themed pencils
  • Stretchy eyeballs
  • Plastic fangs
  • Halloween-themed erasers
  • Halloween-colored yo-yos
  • Plastic skeletons

 Be Safe

glowsticksSafety precautions should be taken on Halloween. Non-food treats such as glow sticks can provide a safety feature for children to wear while they trick-or-treat in the dark. Lip-shaped whistles are a fun way to have a child let you know they are close by.

Find Healthy Substitutions

Sugar-filled treats can be substituted for nutritious treats at a low-cost. Instead of a pack of M&M’s, hand out packs of mixed nuts. Snacks such as air-popped popcorn, pretzels, and cheese sticks make great alternatives to candy items.

Non-Food Halloween Treats at Local Stores

Walmart: 27th & Superior Street

Reward/Treat Pieces per Pack Price ($)
Stretchy Skeletons 12 0.97
Stretchy Eyeballs 6 0.97
Bat Rings 50 0.97
Foam Stickers 75 0.97
Spider Rings 50 0.97
Plastic Skeletons 12 0.97
Mini Erasers 50 0.97
Glitter Foam Stickers 50 0.97
Glow Bracelet 5 0.97
Plastic Fangs 12 0.97
Bounce Balls 12 1.97
Mini Gel Pens 12 1.97
Pencil Topper Stamps 12 1.97
Puzzle Mazes 8 1.97
Bubbles 12 1.97
Assorted pencils 28 1.97

Dollar Store: 27th & Superior St.

Reward/Treat Pieces per Pack Price ($)
Puffy Stickers 47 1
Skull Rings 50 1
Spider Rings 50 1
Assorted Pencils 50 1
Assorted Erasers 18 1
Assorted Erasers 12 1
Glow Bracelets 8 1
Assorted Stickers Varies 1
Creepy Creatures 12 1
Yo-Yos 8 1
Lip Whistles 6 1
Spin- Tops 8 1

Additional Resources & Links

This Pinterest board gives healthy ideas for Halloween fun.  

Authors: Kelsey Doerr, Jaci Foged and Dipti Dev | The Learning Child

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