South American Art Projects

Updated April 17, 2017

There is a rich cultural history of art in South and Central America that you can draw from to create children's art projects. You can make maracas for South American music, masks for Brazil's Carnival, or you can make the national bird of some of the countries. Kids enjoy these sorts of crafts because they can be creative while learning about other cultures. These projects can be done with all ages depending on how you approach them.


Maracas are a type of music maker and kids can make these themselves. There are several ways to make these. For young children the simplest is to put rice, beans or some other noise making object in two cups that are then taped one on top of the other. Children under 7 may need help taping the cups together. Kids can then paint these themselves however they like, or make it more South American themed by having them choose a country and painting it to match the colours of the country's flag. For children over 7, you can have them make a clay maraca with a hollow centre and a hole. After the maraca is dry, they can paint it and fill it with a noise maker and close the hole with a cork or hot glue.


Carnival masks in South America are large and elaborate because they are part of a festive celebration. Kids can be very creative with these masks. Children under 7 can use paper plates and add decorations and paint while children over 7 can sculpt their own masks or make them from papier-mache over a balloon or wire frame. Challenge kids to make them into specific characters for Carnival such as a dragon, midnight robber or minstrel.

Quetzal craft

The Quetzal is Guatemala's national bird. A great Central American art project for younger kids is to make one of these themselves. With a toilet paper roll, craft paper, glue, markers and a pencil you can make your own Quetzal. Have the kids draw out the face of the bird and the shapes for the wings and stomach. Cover the roll with green paper and glue the head and stomach shapes on. Glue the wings so that they spread out to the side of the Quetzal. You can make similar ones for other national birds of Latin America and have a whole collection.

Woven shawls

Weaving is a folk art tradition in South America and kids can make their own weaving loom to create a woven art piece. Use a strong piece of cardboard to hold the vertical threads at 1 cm apart. Your cardboard and number of threads will depend on how big you want your piece to be when you're finished. The end piece will end up 25-50 mm (1-2 inches) smaller than the cardboard base so cut your cardboard piece a few inches taller and wider than what you want the finished piece to be. Let children create their own patterns with thick yarn. Children over 10 can use thinner thread and string the vertical threads closer together for a greater challenge. Tie off the edges once the weaving is complete and use it as a wall decoration, place mat or doll blanket.

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About the Author

Halley Wilson started publishing in 2003 with Niner Online at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese with a minor in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently enrolled in a Master of Arts program for general linguistics there.