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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the paper mache maracas crafted in this art and music project


Art, Music  



Title – Maracas celebrate Cinco de Mayo
By – Paula Hrbacek
Primary Subject – Art
Secondary Subjects – Music
Grade Level – 5


  • Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on the 5th of May. Contrary to what many people believe, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day from Spain, but a remembrance of a David and Goliath-like fight. In 1862 Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza’s force of 4,000 soldiers defeated twice as many French soldiers in the Battle of Puebla. The celebration began soon after the Battle of Puebla, but gained more popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. Mexican-Americans involved in the civil rights movement used the holiday to gain respect in the United States.
  • Today, the Cinco de Mayo celebration is like St. Patrick’s Day in that you don’t have to be Mexican to celebrate it. It is a way of celebrating the Mexican culture. A part of that culture is their music, which uses maracas instead of drums.
  • Maracas are simple percussion instruments, usually played in pairs. They are usually made from a dried gourd shell or coconut shell filled with seeds or dried beans. The word maraca is thought to have come from the Tupi language of Brazil, where it is pronounced ‘ma-ra-KAH’.
  • Maracas will be made from paper mache in this project suitable for children in fifth grade and older.

Materials Needed:

  • Newspaper
  • Toilet Paper tubes
  • Large plastic Easter eggs or small plastic water bottles (like the ones served on airlines)
  • Sand, beans, rice, Mardi Gras beads (cut apart) or plastic crystals left over from imitation stained glass kits
  • Flour (five pounds will supply 30 students)
  • Plastic Bowls
  • Scissors
  • Table Covers
  • Paint Shirts
  • Funnel
  • Drying racks


  1. Fill the egg or bottle.
    • Using a funnel, put one tablespoon of sand, beans, rice, beads or plastic baking crystals into each Easter egg or bottle.
    • Use tape to keep the seam of the egg shut.
  2. Make the handle.
    • Slit a TP tube from top to bottom, then make parallel cuts, 1 ½ to 2 inches deep, spaced 1/8 to ¼ inch apart, across one end of the tube.
    • Roll the tube tightly to make a handle.
    • Secure with paper mache or masking tape.
  3. Attach the handle.
    • Spread the parallel cuts apart.
    • Insert the narrow end of the egg or the neck of the bottle.
    • Use paper mache to tape the handle to the egg or bottle.
  4. Cover the maraca.
    • Completely cover the maraca with at least five layers of paper mache.
    • It must be as thick as cardboard for two reasons; strength, and tonal quality.
    • A thick layer of paper will be similar to a gourd.
  5. Put finished maracas on a drying rack, and let it dry in a light, ventilated space to avoid mildew.
  6. When the maracas are dry, paint the them with craft paint, using a Spanish motif.
  7. Then, use the maracas to play Spanish music.

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