Kachina Doll Activity

5.0 based on 3 ratings
Updated on Jul 18, 2013

Native American history is a big part of elementary social studies. In some Southwestern tribes, the kachina, or spirit force, has played a big role in their culture for centuries. Your child can get a little closer to Native American history and culture by creating her own kachina doll.

What You Need:

  • 2 large wooden spools, 2 medium ones, and 2 small ones (or a cardboard toilet paper tube)
  • Wooden or Styrofoam ball
  • Tempera paint and paintbrushes
  • Permanent markers
  • Hot glue
  • Yarn
  • Feathers, beads, ribbon, fabric scraps, pom poms, other decorations
  • Optional: wiggle eyes or sticker eyes

What You Do:

  1. Tell your child some history about Kachina dolls. They were hand-carved wooden dolls made by Pueblo and Hopi Native American tribes in the Southwestern United States. The dolls represented ancestral spirits or life forces such as a buffalo, a dancer, a signer, clouds or sun. 
  2. Have your child pick an animal spirit or life force that she would like her doll to represent.
  3. Have your child decorate the two largest spools in a way that might fit the theme of her doll. For example, she can use yellow paint or permanent marker for a sun spirit doll, or various colors for a rainbow spirit doll.
  4. After decorating, help her use the hot glue gun to attach the two largest spools to each other, one on top of the other. 
  5. Help her hot glue the two smallest spools to the side of the top largest one as “arms.” The parent can hot glue a wooden ball on top of the largest spool as the “head.” Finally, balance the structure over the two medium-sized spools and help her hot glue the bottom largest spool over these two “legs.”
  6. After the glue dries, she can decorate the doll’s head, arms and legs with yarn, paint, permanent markers, pom poms, fabric, stickers, and feathers. Let her draw, use eye stickers, or glue wiggle eyes onto the ball/head.
  7. An optional way to create the doll is glue a Styrofoam ball on top of an empty cardboard toilet paper roll, then decorate it.
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

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