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Stuck at home? Let’s make the most of it!

School’s out, so let’s take a trip around the world (virtually, of course). We’ll travel to Guatemala and make barriletes kites, Ghana to build our own mancala games, and Holland to design windmills. Five countries in five days — join us!

And for even more Making Around the World, sign up for our weekly summer camp of the same name. It’s one of many great, interactive camps we’re offering, led by our amazing maker educators.

Ready. Set. Make it!

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Around the World

1. Barrilete Kites from Guatemala

Every year in the beginning of November, people in the Guatemalan cities of Sumpango, Santiago and Sacatepequez gather to honor those who have passed away, by flying enormous and colorful kites, called barriletes, in the sky. The festivals are part of the Dia de los Muertos, and the tradition of kites dates back over 300 years! These kites are sometimes as large as 40 meters in diameter and can take up to 6 months to build.

Build your own version of a barrilete using bamboo skewers and tissue paper, or design your own kite using household objects such as paper and plastic bags. Check out the resources below to learn more about the tradition of Barriletes and see how they are made.


Suggested Materials
– Thin skewers, dowels or sticks
– Tissue paper, Construction paper or sheet of plastic
– Tape
– String
– Scissors
– Paint or markers for decoration

Tips and thoughts:
– How does the shape of your kite affect how it flies? What about the size?
– Remember to attach your strings to the outside edges of your kite, and connect them in the middle of the kite, kind of like a parachute.
– Test out different lengths of string when flying. You might have to adjust strings after testing.
– Kites in modern Guatemala are used not only to communicate to ancestors, but also to spread messages of peace and love for the living. What message do you want to place on your kite?

Learn about the kites and tradition of the Giant Kite Festival in Sumpango Guatemala.
Watch how a mini Barrilete is made.
– Don’t have special materials? Make this simple kite using household items.
Written Instructions

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2. Windmills from the Netherlands

Did you know that windmills have been in the Netherlands for over 700 years? Originating from Persia between 500-900 B.C.E., windmill technology eventually made it to Europe around 1200 B.C.E. Windmills were used in Holland primarily for draining water out of the wetlands, but were also used for grinding wheat into flour! Some of these windmills are still working today. Make your own spinning model of a traditional Dutch windmill using basic household materials. Watch it spin using the power of the wind!

Suggested Materials
– Toilet paper tubes
– Paper
– Tape or glue
– Toothpicks or small sticks (dry spaghetti or skewers will work)
– Scissors
– Markers for decoration
– Optional: Small bead of straw or Small bead that fits over the toothpick or skewer

Tips and thoughts:
– Test out different shapes for the vanes of your windmill. Does one shape work better than another?
– If your windmill isn’t spinning, reduce friction with the axle by making the hole around it bigger, or adding a bead as a spacer
– What jobs could you use the rotational motion of the windmill to do?

Learn more about the history of windmills in the Netherlands.
Younger video (pinwheel).
Video for Older Students.
Written Instructions.

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3. DIY Oware (Mancala) board from Ghana

Mancala is a two-player strategy game that is believed to have originated in Ghana, West Africa. Mancala is the general name for a group of pit and pebble games involving rows of either pits in a board or in the earth, and pebbles, beans or seeds as the game pieces. The object of the game is to capture all or some of the opponent’s pieces. Versions of this game have been played for hundreds of years all over the world. Oware is the version that is Asante, played worldwide. The object of the game is to capture more pieces than the opponent’s. This game also has a tradition of helping players learn and practice mathematics.

You can design and build your own Mancala game out of household items. Explore the different styles of playing, or make your own rules while learning about the history and tradition of this board game!

Suggested Materials
– Scissors
– Egg carton
– Tape
– 24 – 48 small beads, marbles, beans or other small item to play with
– Markers or paint for decoration

Tips and thoughts:
– There are many different styles of playing Oware or Mancala in other traditions. Check out the different videos to learn the styles, or make up your own rules!
– How can Oware help you learn about adding and subtracting?
– Don’t have an egg carton? Design your own board using cardboard and small cups!


Learn about the history of Mancala, called Oware, in Ghana
How to play Oware
How to play mancala
Written Instructions.

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4. Traditional Rain stick from Chile

Rainsticks are an ancient musical instrument that is thought to have originated in South America, in a region which is now modern-day Chile! They were used by tribes as a way of calling for rainstorms. They are originally made out of dried-out cactuses and filled with seeds. When the rain stick is tipped, it sounds exactly like the beginning of a rainstorm! Design your own rainstick at home using a paper towel roll, aluminum foil dried beans!

Suggested Materials
– Long tube, from paper towel roll or wrapping paper roll
– Plastic wrap
– Tape
– Aluminum foil
– Dried beans, popcorn kernels, beads or other small hard objects.
– Paper, markers and ribbon for decorating.

Tips and thoughts:
– The rain sound from a rain stick is made by slowing down the fall of whatever if placed inside. – How can you shape the aluminum inside to slow down to beans inside?
Experiment with different lengths of tube by taping multiple tubes together, or rolling a big sheet of paper into a longer tube.
– How can you make different sounds inside the rainstick? Test out different small items to create different sounds.

What is a rain stick
How to make a basic rainstick
Written Instructions

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5. Chinese Style Shadow Puppets

The art of Shadow puppetry originated in China over 2000 years ago! Shadow puppets are made by cutting out shapes and figures, and holding them between a light source and a thin screen or well. Then, the shapes are manipulated in order to bring the shadows to life and tell shorties. Practice your design, making and storytelling skills using this ancient art and simple materials!

Suggested Materials
Dark paper or cardstock
– Scissors
– Light colored pencil or crayons for sketching your shapes
– Tape
– Flashlight
– Wall in a dark room
– Long thin dowel or skewers
– Optional: Cardboard box, parchment or wax paper, box cutter (adult help needed)


Tips and thoughts:
– Remember that for a shadow puppet, the audience will only see the outline of your shape. How can you add details to your design to make the outline more interesting?
– How does moving your puppet closer and farther away from the wall/screen change its size?
– After making one puppet, consider making props and scenery for a full shadow puppet show!

History of shadow puppets
How to make shadow puppets
Written Instructions

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