Sunday, November 18, 2012

Program: Day of the Dead

Since I've been running my tween programs on Wednesday afternoons and Halloween just happened to fall on a Wednesday this year, I knew I definitely wanted to do some sort of program. I didn't want to do a Halloween-themed program since it would be a little late for that, so I had done that program a few weeks before. I thought it would be cool to do a program that focused on another culture's fall celebration - Day of the Dead (or Dia de los Muertos).

All in all, this was a really simple program to run since I did all the prep work ahead of time. I had a small turnout - I'm thinking I might need to change which day of the week I have my programs on because I'm not getting as many kids on Wednesday afternoons as I had been. I don't really have much to say about the program. We decorated sugar skulls - traditional decorations to celebrate the holiday. I made the sugar skulls ahead of time, using a mold I had purchased from a website. The skulls needed to harden for at least 8 hours before the program, so I just made them a couple days ahead and left them out to harden. I provided 4 different colors of royal icing, feathers, ribbon, gemstones and glitter for the kids to use as decoration (the skulls are edible, as is the icing, but not very tasty, and of course inedible once you put anything inedible on it). The icing was the biggest pain for me. The directions I had noted that the colors (gel colors that I had ordered from the same site as the mold) would stain, so I should use disposable equipment for mixing them up. Royal icing is much thicker and more difficult to stir than regular icing, and all I had for disposable containers were plastic drinking cups. They were not nearly large enough to properly mix the icing with the coloring for even distribution. I didn't want to buy disposable pastry bags either, so I put the icing into plastic storage bags and cut off the corners for piping. This worked okay, but the kids couldn't do any fine detail work this way, which was kind of a bummer. I also printed out some sugar skull coloring sheets for them to color if they finished with their skulls, as well as an information sheet about Day of the Dead that I created.

The kids who came had a lot of fun decorating their skulls - trying to make them look like people they knew, giving them mustaches, etc. They were disappointed that the icing came out in such thick streams, but they found ways to make it work. All of them had to leave early, so the coloring sheets didn't really get used, but they took those and the information sheets home for later. I'd like to do this program again next year because it was so easy, but I'd definitely need to figure out a better process for the icing. A coworker borrowed my mold and decorated some with her granddaughters, painting them with acrylic paint instead and had success, so maybe I'd just do that.

What would you do? Have you done a Day of the Dead program?

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