Art projects are an afterschool staple. From seasonal decorations to drawings that help students introduce themselves, paint and paper are as vital to a classroom as brick and cement. There are plenty of classic art projects teachers can break out on a rainy day, but even the most tried-and-true craft can get old after a while, leaving instructors struggling to find new ways to enrich their students.

Thankfully, there are plenty of places to find inspiration when it comes to planning your next craft. Perhaps the richest place is art from around the world! From beadwork in Africa to painted frescos in Central America, there are thousands of art pieces and styles that can inspire you and your students. Global Art: Activities, Projects, and Inventions from Around the World, by MaryAnn Kohl and Jean Potter, provides easy-to-do art activities inspired by cultures and traditions from all over the world. Give these creative activities a try and enrich your art center with global awareness.

Filigree Jewelry

Inspired by the jewelry of ancient Egypt, this activity has young artists curl, wrap, and twist copper and brass wire into unique pieces of jewelry.

Materials:

  • Thin and heavy brass or copper wire
  • Wire cutter and file
  • Colored telephone cable wire
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Dowel
  • Hammer
  • Metal slab

Process:

  1. Cut wire to desired lengths for working the filigree. Smooth the pointed ends of the wire with a file before beginning design work. Colored telephone cable wires can be substituted for the copper or brass wire
  2. Use the needle-nose pliers to experiment with the shapes and forms desired. Some examples of filigree wire techniques are:
    1. To make a curl, wrap the wire around a dowel. Slip the wire off the dowel carefully to maintain the curl
    2. To make earrings, remember the earrings should hang over the ear and will not be placed through the ear. Use the wire cutter to cut two pieces of wire the same size, about 5-8”. Leave about 2” of wire to hang the earring over the ear
    3. To make the wire flat, pound the wire on the metal slab with a hammer until the wire is thin
  3. Wear the jewelry or give as a gift

Tangram Design Game

This shape-based puzzle game was brought to the U.S. by Chinese immigrants. Young artists will construct the seven traditional shapes into designs and patterns.

Materials:

Process:

  1. Draw a large square on a sheet of heavy paper or cardboard. The square should measure 9”x9”
  2. Use the ruler to divide the square into triangles, one square, and one rhomboid
  3. Cut them out of the paper
  4. Explore and manipulate the shapes, making different designs and pictures

Jeweled Eggs

Encrusting eggs with precious jewels is a famous Russian custom. Your students can decorate their own jeweled eggs, perhaps beginning a new tradition at school.

Materials:

Process:

  1. Hold the larger end of the egg carefully in one hand. Pierce a hole in the top of the egg with the darning needle
  2. Turn the egg upside down and pierce a hole in the opposite end. Move the needle around inside this hole to make it a little larger than the other
  3. Hold the egg over a bowl and blow into the small hole to make the insides come out through the larger hole. If the insides won’t come out, shake the egg to break the yoke or poke the needle in the yoke. Blow again
  4. Rinse the egg well under running water, letting water rinse through the inside of the egg too. Dry on paper towels
  5. When the egg is dry, glue the jewels and other glittery decorations on the egg in a beautiful design
  6. Display on a small piece of play clay as a stand