Sombrero Art

Sombrero Art

A Mexican sombrero is an iconic cultural symbol that is often used in traditional celebrations and folkloric festivities. It typically has a very wide brim that provides protection from the sun and has a high pointed crown. It can be made of straw or felt, and comes in different colors, patterns and embellishments.

By using dried beans and corn, foods that are prevalent in Mexican cuisine, your child will create a three-dimensional model of a sombrero. Manipulating and gluing these small items on to paper is a great workout for youngsters’ fine motor skills. It also works on expanding your child’s attention span and focus.

What You Need:

  • Paper plate
  • Small paper bowl
  • Glue
  • Assorted dried beans
  • Dried corn

What You Do:

  1. Help your child glue a paper bowl upside down onto the paper plate and let it dry.
  2. Show your child how to pour a dot of glue onto a bean and position it onto the bowl. Press down for a few seconds to let the glue set. Don’t use too much glue, otherwise the beans will tend to slide around on the bowl.
  3. Have your child cover the entire bowl, working in small sections at a time. ;Once that part is complete, your child can glue other types of beans onto the “rim” of the hat and incorporate some corn kernels, as well. Encourage him to be creative and make fun patterns using the dried beans and corn.
  4. At this stage, the hat is almost finished, but there is a little more work to do. Right now, the hat has a flat crown; to make it look more like a Mexican sombrero, ask your child to add additional layers of beads all the way around the crown. Make sure that each layer gets progressively narrower, creating a pointy shape.
  5. Que bueno! Use the new sombrero to add a little flare around the house for Cinco de Mayo.

Suggestion: For a simpler and quicker alternative to this project, simply help your child draw a picture of a sombrero on a paper plate and have him decorate it by gluing on assorted beans and corn! It will still give your younger child’s fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, patience and creativity a good workout!

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Toilet Paper Roll Maracas

Toilet Paper Roll Maracas

Music instruments can be expensive. Sidestep steep prices with this art project that uses recycled materials to create a melodious music maker! Quick, simple, and mess-free, toilet paper roll maracas are the perfect activity for lazy afternoons and slumber parties.

What You Need:

  • Cardboard toilet paper roll
  • Colored paper
  • Glue stick
  • Pencil
  • Dry pasta, beans or rice

What You Do:

  1. Set the toilet paper roll on the colored paper.
  2. Carefully use a pencil to draw the dimensions of the roll on paper. It’s okay if the paper is longer than the roll—you’ll just glue over it.
  3. Let your child cut out the colored paper along your penciled lines.
  4. Glue the colored paper on the toilet paper roll.
  5. Encourage your child to draw and cut out fun shapes, designs, and fringes from other sheets of colored paper.
  6. Have her glue her decorative pieces on the roll.
  7. Help your child make “caps” for her homemade maraca out of the colored paper. The caps should be slightly larger than the paper roll openings.
  8. Put a small amount of glue around one end of the paper roll.
  9. Place one cap gently over the glued end.
  10. Let your child add beans, pasta or rice into the paper roll.
  11. Glue the cap on the other end. Wait for your maraca to dry.
  12. Give your maraca shake! How does it sound?

What’s more fun than one maraca? Two maracas! Three maracas! Help your child make a maraca collection or create toilet paper roll maracas for each member of the family. Who knows? Maybe she can start her own band!

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How to Make Maracas

How to Make Maracas

Cinco de Mayo celebrates an important battle in Mexican history. Although the battle took place across the border, the holiday is widely celebrated in America by people of Mexican heritage. Why not take part in the festivities? These maracas make a racket, and they couldn’t be easier to make…

What You Need:

  • 2 plastic drink bottles
  • Rocks
  • Dried uncooked pasta
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Masking tape
  • Markers

What You Do:

  1. Rinse out the plastic bottles. Talk to your child about the fact that each of the materials on the table (rocks, pasta, beans, and rice) can be used to fill the maracas. Discuss the qualities of each of the filler materials and ask her to make some predictions about what each material would sound like and what it would do if it filled a bottle (for example, “The rocks are big, so they’d be hard to shake” or “The rice is light so the bottle wouldn’t feel very heavy”).
  2. Allow your child to fill the plastic bottle with the fill material of her choice. Close the bottle, let her shake it, and tell her she can exchange it for something else if she’d like. This is a great time to allow your child to experiment with different fill materials. How is the sound made by rocks in the bottle different than the sound made by rice?
  3. Once your child has settled on the perfect fill materials, place a lid on each bottle and secure with masking tape. Cover the entire bottle with layers of masking tape and give your child the markers so she can decorate them. Strike up the music and shake!
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Create a Mexican Inspired Yarn Picture

Create a Mexican Inspired Yarn Picture

The Huichol Indians, or Wixaritari, of the remote Sierra Madre Occidental areas in Mexico are famous for their brightly colored and elaborate yarn paintings. These works of art reflect this community’s religious and cultural beliefs. The process involves melting a layer of beeswax or pine resin to use as glue to adhere yarn to a square or circular wooden base. Here, your young child can imitate this process using glue in lieu of beeswax. This fun and colorful cultural craft will help your child build his fine motor skills and open his eyes to a new world of art making.

What You Need:

  • Square or circular piece of cardboard or wood; heavy construction paper will work, too
  • Yarn in assorted colors
  • Glue
  • Toothpick
  • Pictures of Huichol symbols and yarn paintings (you can go to the library to find books with these kinds of images or go on-line)
  • Scissors

What You Do:

  1. Help your child find library books or Internet resources that illustrate Huichol sacred symbols and their meanings, and show examples of yarn paintings. Often, birds such as eagles and hummingbirds are depicted in Huichol art, as well as the sun, earth, water, air, fire, shaman’s wand, prayer arrow, peyote cactus, sacred deer, and portals between worlds, just to name a few.
  2. In pencil, ask your child to draw his picture onto the cardboard. He should select one or two key Huichol symbols to showcase in his artwork and build upon those. Encourage him to use a multitude of images to fill the empty space. Let him be creative and see what he comes up with!
  3. Before he begins gluing on the yarn to color in his “painting,” have him think about what colors he wants where, so that he can get a sense of where the yarn will go.
  4. Now have your child work in small sections at a time to trace the pencil outlines in yarn, filling them in with bold colors. First, have your child spread glue in the selected area and then, using a toothpick or his fingertips, gently press the yarn into place. Your child can coil one continuous piece of yarn or cut it into smaller pieces, whichever he finds easier. Keep a damp cloth or paper towel handy to wipe dried glue off of sticky fingers.
  5. The more vibrant the colors, the better!

If your child is feeling ambitious, he can fill in the background completely so that there is no white space, making it more similar to an authentic Huichol yarn painting. This activity is a unique way to inspire creativity in your child as he celebrates Mexican history and culture and explores his inner artist.

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How to Make a Jewelry Box

How to Make a Jewelry Box

Craft a pretty Mother’s Day jewelry box that’s fit for a queen (or at least an awesome mom)! Your child can design and create her own handmade jewelry container out of simple art materials and reused household items. This is a great way to recycle, and make something truly special for mom, too!

What You Need:

  • Small box with a lid (used tea bag boxes work well)
  • Tempera paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Construction paper
  • Markers
  • Clear drying, non-toxic glue
  • Sequins or glitter
  • Scissors

What You Do:

  1. Search the house for an acceptable box to reuse. This is a great time to talk to your child about the environment and reusing or re-purposing items instead of throwing them away. If you’re looking for a good box structure, try a tea bag box. These are generally the perfect size and come with a flap lid that’s already attached (so she won’t have any trouble with missing pieces!).
  2. Have her choose a theme such as colors or patterns, and encourage her to brainstorm some words that describe Mom. Think of adjectives or fun sayings such as, “Mom is magic!” or “Brilliant!”. Add these to the jewelry box masterpiece so that mom is always reminded of how lovingly she’s viewed by her little artist.
  3. Have your child paint the box. Start with a solid color—maybe Mom’s favorite—and then add patterns of different shapes and sizes.
  4. Cut small heart shapes from the construction paper. Have her think of words or phrases that describe Mom. For an added twist, consult a poetry book for lines from loving works by beloved authors. Encourage her to write these words and phrases onto the hearts using markers. If your child is having trouble writing, she may need to have an adult helper write the letters first with pencil. The pencil lines can be traced over with a marker.
  5. Ask her to glue the hearts to the box.
  6. Invite her to add sequins or glitter for some added sparkle. To create glittery hearts, try tracing the outlines with glue lines, and then sprinkling glitter on top. This will make for a shiny outline that highlights the special descriptive words.
  7. After it has dried thoroughly, give it to Mom!

Want to add a little something to this gift? Help your kid make some handmade jewelry that comes straight from the heart. Fill up the jewelry box, turning it inti a plethora of handcrafted beauty.

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Mexican Noise Maker

Mexican Noise Maker

Music is an important aspect of Mexican culture. Your child can make his very own percussion instrument using simple materials such as paper plates, construction paper and tissue paper. Here’s how:

What You Need:

  • 2 paper plates
  • Yellow acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • 2 sheets of yellow construction paper
  • Safety scissors
  • Green, white and red tissue paper
  • Markers and/or glitter glue
  • Glue
  • Dried beans or rice

What You Do:

  1. Ask your child to apply a coat of yellow paint to the bottom sides of each paper plate.
  2. While the paint dries, help your child measure and cut the sheets of yellow construction paper so that they are square and the same width as the plates.
  3. Overlap one piece of construction paper over the other, creating an 8-point star. Help your child glue them together.
  4. Help your child cut the tissue paper into strips, about one inch wide and four inches long.
  5. Ask your child to glue the strips of tissue paper around the edges of the 8-point star, alternating green, white and red strips in a clockwise direction until the entire star is trimmed.
  6. When you sandwich them between the paper plates, triangular corners of the paper should protrude beyond the plates. These will be the rays of the sun.
  7. When the plates are dry, encourage your child to decorate them with cheery pictures.
  8. Apply glue to the inner rim of one paper plate and attach one side of the star to it.
  9. Fill the second paper plate with a handful of dried beans or rice.
  10. Apply glue around the inner rim of the second paper plate and stick the unattached side of star to it.
  11. Allow the noisemaker to dry completely before your child plays with it.

For a little extra pizzazz, tie string to several jingle bells and glue or staple them around the rim of the noisemaker. If the plate is a little too large for your younger child to grasp, then try folding the plates in half and stapling them together so that you have a half-moon shape.

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Flowerpot Recipe Holder

Flowerpot Recipe Holder

Mother’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated holidays of the year – probably because everyone has one! Instead of a cookie-cutter Mother’s Day gift, kids can now make a personalized recipe display. This is a great craft to introduce Plaster of Paris, which works like cement to set the flowers in the pot. With a handwritten note or poem, Mom will cherish this gift forever.

What You Need:

  • Small flowerpot
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Water
  • Fork
  • Card stock
  • Craft sticks
  • Paint or markers
  • Glitter or stickers
  • Glue
  • Faux flowers (optional)
  • Poem or note for Mom

What You Do:

  1. Have your child find some plastic flowers, or draw and paint Mom’s favorite flowers on card stock.
  2. Next, cut them out and decorate the flowers with markers and glitter for sparkle.
  3. Paint the craft sticks green and glue them to the flowers for a finished bouquet.
  4. Help your child mix Plaster of Paris according to the package directions, and pour some into the flowerpot until it is halfway full.
  5. As the plaster begins to dry, your child can insert the flowers into the plaster, as well as the fork, with the tines facing up. This will clip Mom’s special note in place.
  6. Glue the note onto card stock and stick it in between the fork tines. When you’re ready to cook for mom, just stick the recipe on top for a hands-free display!

Inspire your child to write a note with this “Recipe for Love” poem!

Take a cup or two of laughter, and a pinch of good advice.

Pour in patience by the bowlful, and then stir it once or twice.

Fold in lots of hugs and kisses, and a mother’s gentle care.

Then cook it ’til it’s nice and warm, and spread it everywhere.

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Mexican Hat Dance

Mexican Hat Dance

If you’re throwing a party this Cinco de Mayo, be sure to include the Mexican Hat Dance! This popular folk dance was originally performed during a celebration commemorating the end of the Mexican Revolution. It has now become a symbol of national pride among Mexican people. Kids will squeal with delight as they work on their coordination, reflexes, and balance while they dance to “Jarabe Tapatio,” otherwise known as the Mexican Hat Dance Song.

What You Need:

  • Sombrero or other large brimmed hat decorated to look like a sombrero
  • A recording of the “Mexican Hat Dance” song
  • Players
  • Someone to play the music

What You Do:

  1. Place a sombrero in the middle of a spacious room where kids can dance.
  2. While the music plays, players dance around the sombrero in a circle, playfully stepping on the brim from time to time and clapping to the beat of the music.
  3. Every time the music stops, players must freeze. If a player is caught moving or with a foot on the sombrero, that person is eliminated.
  4. The object of the game is to be the last one dancing.
  5. The person who wins takes a turn playing the music.

“Jarabe Tapatio” was composed by a Mexican music professor in the 19th century and tells the story of love and courtship. The traditional Mexican Hat Dance can be performed by a couple or a group of couples, with the female, “la china,” wearing a China Poblana dress, and the male, “charro,” clad in a three-piece suit with pants that have silver buttons down the seam.

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Make Say Cheese Flowers

Make Say Cheese Flowers

Looking for a cute and creative gift that won’t break the bank? This sweet card stock bouquet featuring your child’s photo is sure to make Mom or Grandma smile on Mother’s Day or any day of the year. With plenty of cutting and coloring, this craft is also great for your child’s fine motor skills.

What You Need:

  • Several sheets of card stock in various colors, cut into 4” x 4” flower shapes (you can use a flower-shaped cookie cutter)
  • Crayons or markers
  • Small photo of your child
  • Green pipe cleaners
  • Clear tape
  • Glue
  • 1 full sheet of card stock

What You Do:

  1. Encourage your child to decorate at least three or four of the card stock flowers with crayons or markers.
  2. Glue your child’s photo in the center of one of the decorated flowers.
  3. Help her tape green pipe cleaners to the back of each flower to create stems.
  4. Invite her to decorate the full sheet of card stock with crayons or markers.
  5. Roll the card stock into a funnel shape and secure with clear tape. Make sure the decorations on the card stock are facing out.
  6. Place the flowers inside the card stock funnel to create a fun bouquet.

Helpful Hints

Use a large flower-shaped cookie cutter as a pattern for creating the flower shapes.

Instead of card stock use index cards, poster board, or cardboard scraps for the flowers.

Personalize the bouquet by writing the letters of the recipient’s name on the flowers.

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Mom Card

Mom Card

Celebrate Mom’s special day with a card that truly has heart! Forget about expensive store bought greetings, this handcrafted card truly delivers, while actually helping your kid learn valuable lessons about letter recognition and problem solving. M-O-M spells mom, and this cool craft will have him using his imagination to invent creative color combinations for this alphabet-inspired card. Cut out a peek-a-boo heart shaped window in the “O” and fill it with glued tissue paper that looks just like stained glass.

What You Need:

  • 8″ x 10″ card stock or other thick paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tissue paper
  • Clear drying, non-toxic glue
  • Tape

What You Do:

  1. Fold the card stock in half from top to bottom. (It should look like a tent when you set it down.)
  2. With the card stock still folded in half, help your child write the letters M-O-M on the front, in large letters. These should be double lines, or bubble letters, that take up the entire side of the folded card stock. Instead of making an inner “o” on the letter “O”, consider making the hole a heart shape.
  3. Cut around the edges to reveal the word “Mom.”
  4. Cut out the heart from the letter “O”. This may be difficult for little hands, so it’s best that a parent at least starts the process. Poke a hole through the card stock in the middle of the heart, or fold and cut a slit in the middle. Cut up to the line of the heart, and then cut around the edges.
  5. Make sure that the card is folded, and have your child trace the heart onto the other side of the card, directly beneath the cut-out. Cut out this heart in the same manner described in step 4.
  6. Cut a small square of plastic wrap that is slightly larger than the heart whole.
  7. Using safety scissors, have your child cut pieces of colored tissue paper into shapes (circles, squares, triangles, and more), and then glue them onto the plastic wrap. This is meant to mimic stained glass. Set aside to dry.
  8. While the tissue paper plastic wrap is drying, ask your child to color in the letters that spell mom with markers. Help her to write a special message on the inside of the card as well.
  9. Place the tissue paper plastic wrap behind the bottom of the card, with the plastic facing up. Tape or glue the edges to the back. When you close the card it will reveal a faux stained glass heart in the middle!

Older children may want to get more creative with the faux stained glass detail. Use permanent markers in black to draw lines (these are similar to the leaded parts of stained glass) in the form of shapes on the plastic wrap before adding tissue paper. Create patterns or even a mini-landscape.

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