MAKE YOUR OWN CATRINA DOLL for Day of the Dead Art Project unit

Day of the Dead Catrina Dolls




Celebrate The Day of the Dead holiday with a form-based art project that uses paper bags and cardboard boxes.

These festive Catrina Doll 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 roll

– 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.

Here’s what to do:

The Armature

For the body: Stuff the bottom of a lunch bag with newspaper. Place a paper towel roll inside the 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 the top of paper towel roll. Use a paper plate to cut a circle to be used for the brim of the Catrinas’ 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 the paper towel roll securely. These are the arms.

Tape the entire Catrina to the cardboard box stand.

Finishing Details

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

The “Catrina’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.

Want another lesson idea for your Mexican art unit? Download this free PDF by clicking below and we’ll send you our Sugar Skull Drawing Guide!

Click here to subscribe


What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • april

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

  • Patty P

    Thanks April. I love the colors as well!

  • Sarah Dougherty

    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!!!

  • debbie

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

  • Jaffe Davis

    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

      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!

  • Bonnie Muir

    Do these usually take 2 or 3 weeks?

    • Patty Palmer

      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.

  • Denisse Carrillo

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

    • Patty Palmer

      You could do either, but we painted them.

Follow Us

In stores 8/21


The {lesson_title} Lesson is Locked inside of the {bundle_title}

Unlocking this lesson will give you access to the entire bundle and use {points} of your available unlocks.

Are you sure?

No Yes

The {bundle_title} is Locked

Accessing this bundle will use {points} of your available unlocks.

Are you sure?

No Yes



The {lesson_title} Lesson is Locked inside of the {bundle_title}

To unlock this lesson, close this box, then click on the “lock” icon.