Lesson 807: Kites of the Dead in Guatemala

Day of the Dead is observed throughout Central America and each region celebrates in its own fashion. One small town in Guatemala, Santiago Sacatepéques, located between two major cities, Antigua and Guatemala City, has a different take, a festival of kites.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about a small town in Guatemala that honors the deceased friends and family members by having a fiesta, a festival of kites.

Social Studies Standards

Global Connections: 
A, B

Discussion Prompts

  • Discuss the idea of the different ways that people can communicate and honor deceased friends and family members contrasting with the festival of kites. 
  • The city hosting this festival sits in between two major Guatemalan cities, Antigua, and Guatemala City. However, it is not a tourist attraction. Talk about what might interest tourists when they travel abroad more than local traditions.
  • Debate the economic and environmental impact of the festival on the city since it appears that it takes the village valuable resources to have a successful celebration.
  • Discuss some of the many ways that the town uses to maintain and honor their Mayan ancestors despite the interference of their colonizers, the Spaniards. Comment on instances you could see the Spaniards’ cultural influences.

Lesson Activities

  • Create a timeline to show how communication improved through time and how long it took for a message to reach the other party, from drums to tweet. On the timeline, where, in your opinion, should the kite messaging to the dead be located and why. 
  • Select someone who is important to you or your culture to honor on the Day of the Dead. Create the largest kite you can but following the essence of the festival of kites in mind, including a symbolic and a tweet thank you message on the design.
  • Research the Mayan and Gregorian calendar. Compare and contrast both calendars, develop, illustrate, and name your calendar based on the similarities or differences you found about these calendars. Write a paragraph explaining your calendar.
  • Write an article for your school newspaper about the kite festival. In your article include the following: the concept of death being one more stage in life, that the dead comes to see people, the tree trunk holding the kites, the size of the kite compared to something tangible so your peers can imagine its size, the pre-festival Mayan traditions, clothing, and all the other activities preceding the Day of the Dead.


  • attraction
  • deceased
  • Gregorian calendar
  • laboriously
  • Mayan calendar
  • nahuales
  • Q’eqchi’
  • sources of energy
  • spirituality
  • vibrant


In the Americas Season 8 Lesson Episode 7