Day of the Dead Katrina Doll


Paper-bag “Katrina’s” ended our Dead of the Dead unit.These festive, vibrant sculptures were a blast to create. The fifth grade students worked hard taping paper bags and paper towel rolls together, adding paper plate hats and trying hard to find ingenious ways to make the arms stay together! After completing the armature, paints were mixed, sequins gathered and the fun began…

What you’ll need:

  • Cardboard food boxes of various sizes. Cereal and cracker boxes work great.
  • Paper towel rolls
  • Paper plates
  • Brown paper lunch bags
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard egg carton
  • Lots of masking tape
  • Embellishments (pom-poms, sequins, feathers, marigold silk flowers, tissue paper, etc)
  • Liquid tempera paint without much water added.

The Armature

For the body: Stuff the bottom of a lunch bag with newspaper. Place a paper towel roll inside bag. Cinch top of bag around roll using masking tape to secure.

For the head: Use part of an egg carton cup and tape to top of paper towel roll. Use a paper plate to cut a circle to be used for the brim of the Katrina’s hat. Use an egg carton cup as the crown of the hat.

For the arms; Use newspaper or lunch bag paper and fold a length of paper until thick. Wrap this folded piece around torso and tape to paper towel roll securely. These are the arms.

Tape the entire Katrina to the cardboard box stand.


Using liquid tempera paints (or acrylics if you prefer), paint the face of the Katrina white. Allow to dry before adding black facial features. When paint dries, add embellishments and if you have the time and know-how, maybe add a few tissue paper marigolds.

The “Katrina’s” took three, 45-minute sessions. Constructing the armature was the most difficult but the students listened well and got busy after the demonstration. Painting and decorating was a huge amount of fun. I put supplies on each table and gave minimal instructions. This seemed to work well, as the kids engaged their imaginations freely.

This is my daughter with her “Katrina” Doll. So happy!


  1. april says:

    They're wonderful! And look at those colors! Beautiful pieces of art!

  2. Patty P says:

    Thanks April. I love the colors as well!

  3. I love these. Dia de los Muertos is one of my favorite units to teach. This year I decided not to, and looking at these makes me wish I had!!!

  4. debbie says:

    like project of day of dead wish you had better instrution would love make one my self
    thank you

  5. [...] “Katrina” Dolls require some collecting. Egg cartons, newspapers, old lunch bags, paper plates or recycled card stock, cereal boxes and toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls. The results are worth it! More pictures Here. [...]

  6. Jaffe Davis says:

    I would love to do this lesson but am wondering about some of the steps….
    What were the egg cartons, paper plates, and card stock used for? I can guess about some of the other things.
    Wonderful lesson!

    • Patty says:

      Egg cartons are separated and used for the hats. Same with the card stock. Children traced “Brims” and attached them to the trimmed egg cups. Paper plates were used for the hats as well. Use whatever you have. Paper towel rolls for the body, paper bag for the skirt.
      Hope this helps a bit. Never took the time to do proper instruction because it felt so lengthy!

  7. [...] projects, the ideas are endless. Collect paper towel tubes, lunch bags and box board to create “Katrina Dolls”. Or use empty boxes (cereal, toothpaste, pasta) to create a skyscraper collage. I did this with my [...]

  8. [...] “Katrina” Dolls require some collecting. Egg cartons, newspapers, old lunch bags, paper plates or recycled card stock, cereal boxes and toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls. The results are worth it!  [...]

  9. [...] Day of the Dead Katrina Doll (3-D Papier Mache) [...]

  10. Bonnie Muir says:

    Do these usually take 2 or 3 weeks?

    • Patty Palmer says:

      It took me 3 sessions at 45-minutes each but it depends on how many students you have, if you have helpers, how attentive the students are and how long your class is. I would plan for 3 sessions.

  11. Denisse Carrillo says:

    Great project! Did you paint the cereal boxes or cover them with paper?

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About Patty

I teach art to 400 school children in Goleta, California. My art library contains hundreds of free art lesson ideas. My shop has art lesson plans, videos and resources to help you teach art to kids. It's a whole lot easier with Deep Space Sparkle.

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