Lesson Plan: Mexican Animalitos

Mexican Animalitos

Elementary Lesson: Animalitos - Source of images unknown (original plan has been lost)
Grade levels: Third through fifth



Students are introduced to the culture of Mexico. Examples of fanciful animals are shown via PowerPoint. Mexican paper mache animals as well as wood animals are shown. Demonstrate making armature and paper mache process. Discuss ideas for decoration.



  • Students will Gain appreciation of the folk arts of Mexico

  • Develop problem solving skills in designing an animal - and constructing armature

  • Develop skills in paper mache and painting

  • Use pattern to enhance the surface


12" x 18" (30 x 46 cm) Newsprint. for sketching ideas, newspaper, Masking Tape., aluminum foil (optional), cardboard scraps,  paper bags (torn into manageable pieces and soaked in water) - or brown paper toweling end rolls, Wheat Paste. (be sure it is kid safe) or Ross White Paste,. pie plates, table covers (roll paper works fine), Wax Paper. (for drying purposes), Acrylic Paint. (or Tempera Paint. and Acrylic Gloss Medium.), Paint Markers. and squeeze paints optional.



1. Draw animalito design on newsprint - fill the page. Make your animalito a fantasy animal or simplify an animal from nature. Keep it some simple basic shapes. Be sure to add wings, ears and horns if desired.


2. Make armature from rolled up newspaper. Begin with main body shape. Smooth over with a layer of newspaper. Tape in place with masking tape. Put name on a piece of masking tape and put in a visible place.


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3. Add rolled up newspaper for legs and a ball of newspaper for head. Tape on to body. (Armature took at least one class period - some had time to start Paper Mache.)


4. Tape on cardboard scraps for wings, ears - may make horns and tails from rolled up aluminum foil. If desired - smooth a layer of aluminum foil over the armature and tape in place with masking tape (if desired)


5. Tear newspaper into pieces approximated 2" x 2" ( 5 x 5 cm) and manageable strips. Dip newspaper pieces into wheat paste (or Ross paste) - Smooth off excess. I used a couple of aluminum pie plates at each table when I did this. Put one layer of newspaper over entire armature. I had students put their name on one piece of paper and paper mache it on in a visible place so I would know whose was whose. We put ours on wax paper to dry. (first layer took one class period)


6. Put a second layer of paper mache over using brown paper bags (soaked in water to soften) - or use pieces of brown paper toweling end rolls. Be sure to keep pieces smooth - no wrinkles. (second layer took at least one class period)


7. When dry - paint with Acrylic Paint. (or tempera). Put a base coat on areas - may change colors for head - wings - ears - legs. Allow base coat to dry. (one class period - some were able to start adding designs)

8. Paint on patterns - may accent with paint markers and squeeze paints. (one last class period - finish stories)


Note: I had students write a story and illustrate it while they were waiting for paper mache and paint to dry. I had hair dryers for them to dry paint - but only two so students had to take turns.



Book: Unos animalitos astutos: Lesson Plans for Spanish Teachers (English and Spanish Edition). - Standards-based lesson plans for each story prepare students for the authentic animal stories by offering a wide variety of pre-reading, reading, and post-reading activities that support the standard objectives.

Book: Mexican Folk Art: From Oaxacan Artist Families. - This beautiful reference introduces contemporary Mexican folk art by featuring prominent artists from Oaxaca in southeastern Mexico.

Book: Arts and Crafts of Mexico. - Combines in-depth text and images into a myriad of indigenous art forms. Among the items covered are textiles from the country's various regions; ceramics, from rough pots to Majolica ware; jewelry, ranging from silver earrings featuring alligators and donkeys, to carved necklaces with colored Beads. and metals; toys painted in colors; woven goods such as baskets, mats, and bags.

Also see Oaxacan Folk Art lesson

Video- How to Make Mexican Animalitos- This is a series of videos that explains how to make animalitos. Also see part 2.



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