Throughout their lives, children hear about world events, interact with people from other countries, and use products that are made all over the globe. Global awareness is a critical twenty-first-century skill, but given the vast size of the world and the high cost of international travel, how can children develop this ability at home? Through hands-on art experiences, children can learn about the thousands of people and countries that have played and still play a part in shaping the modern world.
The activities in Global Art: Activities, Projects, and Inventions from Around the World by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Jean Potter will expose children to the art and cultures of dozens of countries from all seven continents (even Antarctica!). As children cut, paint, glue, and tie, they discover how we are different, how we are alike, how we are connected to the past, and how geography and history link people together. To beat the summer heat, try one of these indoor activities from another hot part of the world!
Grigri Charms (Africa)
Many years ago, grigris were worn by people in tribes and countries all over Africa. Grigris could be made of leather, ivory, fibers, bone, metal, and sometimes gold, and they were thought to have magical qualities of luck, protection, and happiness. Today, grigris are worn in North Africa, where they are made from leather with printed symbols and designs on them.
- Thin cork wall tile or bulletin-board sheeting
- Colored markers
- Paper punch
- String or cord, 24’’ (60 cm) long
- Design and color a grigri symbol on the sheet of cork. Any shape or design will do.
- Cut out the grigri symbol with scissors.
- Punch a hole in the top of the cork symbol with the paper punch.
- Thread the string through the hole to make a necklace.
- Tie it around the neck and wear as a charm for good luck and happiness.
Tut Trung Thu Lantern (Vietnam)
Tet Trung Thu is a mid-autumn festival held to honor the beauty of the moon on the 15th day of the 8th month on the Chinese lunar calendar. Moon cakes are eaten and given as gifts, and children create lanterns in the shapes of animals or other objects. After dark, children place candles in their lanterns and parade through the streets to the crashing of cymbals and the beating of drums.
- Construction paper rectangle approximately 8’’ x 14’’ (20 cm x 35 cm)
- A small paper plate for the base
- Scissors, tape, and glue
- Colorful art tissue paper
- Hole punch
- Glow stick or small flashlight
- Measure a piece of construction paper about 8’’ (20 cm) tall, and long enough to go around the diameter of the paper plate. Trim the rectangle to form a cylinder that will be the paper lantern.
- Cut shapes from the construction paper, such as moons and stars, geometric shapes, animal shapes, or other designs. Do not cut near the edges of the rectangle, only the center areas.
- Cut pieces of tissue paper and tape or glue them on the back of the construction paper to cover the holes. Use as many colors as desired.
- Roll the construction paper into a cylinder and tape the long edge. Next, tape it to the paper-plate base.
- With a hole punch, go around the top edge of the lantern and make four holes, spacing them evenly around the lantern.
- Tie an equal length of string through each of the holes. Gather the four strings above the lantern and tie them to the dowel.
- Place a glow stick or a small flashlight in the lantern. Have a lantern parade in the evening or in a darkened room. Add noisy cymbals and loud drums to complete the celebration of the moon.
Easy Fiesta Piñata (North America)
The piñata originated in Italy, but it is most commonly associated with Mexico. Piñatas were originally made of pottery, but now they are usually made of papier-máché. Everyone enjoys joining in the fun of taking turns trying to break open the piñata. When the piñata finally bursts open, the treasures inside fall to the ground, and everyone scrambles to pick up the toys and candy.
- Old newspapers
- Container for newspaper squares
- Strong balloon
- Masking tape
- Liquid starch and aluminum pie plate
- Pin or needle to make holes
- Wrapped candy, small toys, treats
- Paints and paintbrushes
- Art tissue paper
- Yardstick, dowel, or stick from a tree
- Tear out or cut the newspapers into about 1’’ (3-cm) squares and place them in a container.
- With adult help, blow up a balloon and tie the end. Tape the end of the balloon to the work surface with masking tape to keep it from rolling or blowing away.
- Pour liquid starch in the pie plate. Dip a square of newspaper in the starch and stick it on the balloon. Dip and stick more squares of paper, covering the balloon. Try to cover the balloon completely with three or four layers, leaving the tied end exposed.
- Then let the balloon dry well, sometimes for several days or overnight. When dry, pinch the balloon from the tied end and pop it with a pin. Pull the balloon carefully out of the newspaper form. Poke a hole in each of the two sides of the piñata to hang it.
- Fill the piñata with candy, toys, or other treats, or write up little coupons on strips of paper for gifts that can be claimed at a later time.
- Cover the hole with masking tape or more newspaper squares dipped in starch (dry again). Be sure the punched holes for the string are left uncovered.
- Paint the piñata with bright colors to decorate. Cut art tissue paper into shapes or designs. Press the art tissue paper into the wet paint on the piñata. Let dry for several hours.
- Put the string through the holes and hang the piñata. Gather in a group. Blindfold one person at a time, and take turns trying to break the piñata open with a yardstick. When the treats fall to the ground, everyone scrambles to collect several for each person.
Caution: Keep other children away from the blindfolded person trying to hit the piñata with the stick.