As I was growing up we did not celebrate the day(s) when the dead are remembered in this fashion. My mother lit candles to the saints on All Soul's Day and that was pretty much that.
It was when I began to teach Spanish as a Second Language that I went to UCLA where they had ofrendas (offerings) and educational material that I was able to share in the 3rd-6th grade classes I taught. By my last year teaching Spanish, we were able to incorporate the preparations and visits to include students from Pre-K through 6th grade as well as their parents.
The image above is an ofrenda created by the La Pintoresca library staff a couple of years ago. The most common elements of an ofrenda are visible; candles, flowers, water, and food. The Latino Heritage blog will have information about the items and whey they are included. Places like The Folk Tree and Self Help Graphics have artists who present their interpretation of remembrance. They can be amazingly grand.Since the day is really about remembering those who have passed on, it can also be something that is quite simple. When our Lili was 4 she helped put together this ofrenda that included the faces and names of grandparents and great-grandparents she'd never met. She learned about their likes and dislikes as reflected by the food, decorations and flowers. And Kate had a chance to share what was meaningful memories. An offering of love and memory; family history at its very best.
To learn a bit more about the Días de los muertos - latinoheritage.blogspot.com