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Corn-Husk Characters

Explore a Native American tradition. These replica dolls bring back a delightful, historic craft.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Students research and find out how Native American and farm children in past generations made dolls from corn husks. Have students interview grandparents or other elders who might have made or played with these dolls.
    2. To make replica corn husks to create a character, students cut the seams of a brown paper lunch bag with Crayola® Scissors so it lies flat. Use Crayola Washable Markers to cover the bag with long brown, yellow, and orange lines, all in the same direction, for texture. Cover the work area with newspaper. Blend the marker colors slightly with a damp paint brush. Dry.
    3. Students cut the bag into about 12 long and 6 short husks. Trim the ends so they look irregular and natural. Tightly tie one end of the longer husks together with yarn. Turn the tied end over, and pull the yarn ends out. Spread the husks around the tied end, then cover it. Tie yarn tightly around the husks to create the character's head.
    4. Tie the shorter husks near both ends for arms. Spread the husks of the longer piece in two. Insert the arm section, then tie the character at the waist.
    5. Complete the Corn-Husk Character in a way that is authentic to the time and culture of your choice. Cut hair from yarn or construction paper. Tie it to the yarn left at the top of the head. Add clothing, such as an apron, by coloring paper and tying it on. For pants, divide the bottoms of the husks into two equal parts, then tie at the ankles. Use markers to draw a face.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

    VA: Know and compare the characteristics of artworks in various eras and cultures.

  • Adaptations

    Students research Native American and early American crafts including dolls made with corn husks. Dolls should be dressed with apparel authentic to the period and culture.

    Students work in teams to write an original story that includes each of their corn-husk characters as a main or supporting character. The story should be authentic to the period and culture.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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