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Students Experience Field Trip to the DIA

Students Experience Field Trip to the DIA

This October, Spanish teachers chaperoned Eastover (grade 3), Way (grade 3), East Hills (grade 8), and West Hills (grade 7) students to the Detroit Institute of Art. Their common destination: The Ofrendas el Día de los Muertos, or, the altars of the Day of the Dead. 

According to the DIA, “In Mexico, and other Latin American countries, the Day of the Dead is the time of the year to celebrate the lives of close relatives, friends, or community members who have passed away. Objects important to lost loved ones, such as favorite foods, drinks, mementos, and pictures, are collected and incorporated into elaborate displays…”

Our teachers and students took advantage of the free field trips offered by the DIA, including busing, in order to witness this culture in person, which ties directly to Bloomfield Hills Schools curriculum. 

One piece of our curriculum states “describe and explain the significance of the products associated with an important civil or religious holiday.” This exhibit was a perfect opportunity for the students to compare what the museum had to offer versus what they had learned in class. Janelle Wolak, Eastover’s Spanish teacher, added that “they were able to make real-life connections to class content.  This is so important when it comes to student engagement.”

Nicole Mackinder mentioned that East Hills students “will be contributing to a class ‘Ofrenda’ by bringing in items that represent their deceased loved ones or items that are traditionally found on altars. They will also be creating Papel Picado, which is a common craft made for the Day of the Dead and placed on or near ‘Ofrendas’.”

Natalie Levy (grade 7) of West Hills reflected after the trip. “It changed my understanding of the traditional Ofrendas, and it did this because we saw some basic, less extravagant Ofrendas, and some very large, extravagant ones, with many different colors and trinkets… I liked that the Ofrendas were all extremely different, and they all reflected completely opposite people. Some of the Ofrendas were very colorful, and some were more dull, like all black and white."

Mackinder has been taking this field trip for years, but she said, “this is the first year that this field trip has been opened up to ALL 8th graders and not just those taking Spanish and art. I am so glad for this, as EVERYONE benefits from learning about art, and everyone felt included and valued as part of the East Hills Community.”