Sunday, January 30, 2011

Magical Worry Dolls

There is nothing more adorable then a lesson that the students really get into and uber excited about! In this case my first graders experienced the legend of Guatemalan worry dolls! I created this lesson when I was a student teacher, working at a small jewelry store on the beach in RI, where I sold pottery, handbags, wind chimes, and assorted trinkets, including Worry Dolls. I loved the concept of worry dolls and thought that it was really a fantastic lesson to teach to the students. In case you are wondering what they are, here fabulous link to explore . Also here is the little story that comes with each set of dolls:

WORRY DOLL LEGEND - There is a legend amongst the Highland Indian villages of Guatemala: If you have a problem, then share it with a worry doll. Before going to bed, tell one worry to each doll, then place them beneath your pillow. Whilst you sleep, the dolls will take your worries away!

At the time I felt that the best way to convey the concept of the worry dolls to the students was through a story book, well I couldn't find one that did that. I wrote a book to go with the lesson and got a friend of mine at the time to illustrate it for me. The students really got a big kick out of this too! They couldn't believe that I wrote a book just for them!

Anyway, here is the rest of the lesson. Students twist pipe cleaners together to form their doll. Rather than wrapping the structure in embroidery floss like the actual dolls, I have the students continue to use pipe cleaners to create clothing on their doll. Pipe cleaners are fairly cheap and easy for students to manipulate. Finally, I pre-made a pouch for the students worry dolls to "sleep" in. I take cut construction paper to be 6 x 12 " and fold it over leaving about an 1- 1.5 at the top. Then I punch holes all around the edge, and put a staple on each side to hold it together for the students. They have to sew yarn around the edges and decorate the pouch creating a pattern- and we talk about what a pattern is. The pouch is for the doll to sleep in, but also for you the teacher to keep track of who's doll is who's. I originally did this with 2nd graders. When I did I have created a worksheet to go along with it to have the students write about their doll, giving it a name, describe what the doll was wearing, and what they're dolls magical powers are. We even had a show and tell portion of the lesson where the students introduced their doll to the class. It was very adorable!
 This doll has a sword! 
 This guy here is skateboarding!        

I recently discovered that there are kits that provide you with materials to make worry dolls as well. Enasco has a kit Also Amazon has a kit that supposedly allows for you to make 100 dolls! Here is the link for that! Here is my 2 cents on the kits: I think that these materials may not be appropriate for the level of 1st and 2nd grade students. I personally think that these younger students may not have the patience or the motor skills to work with embroidery floss! But the pipe cleaners are fantastic!  

 Visit the link above to see more worry dolls and MANY more lessons on my Artsonia page! Thanks for looking!


  1. Adorable. I think the teacher that works with Janet does pipe cleaner super-heroes. Pipe cleaners are so much fun, and the kids are always amused by them.

  2. I've never thought of worry dolls made out of pipe cleaners. Nice lesson for moving figures. I like it. jan

  3. Thanks! I do lead into the lesson with a figure drawing lesson, where the students take turns modeling and they're drawings are so precious!

  4. Rachel, this is a fabulous idea. I've been looking for more South American themed art for my third graders and I am totally stealin' this! You rock!

  5. I LOVE this idea. so so so much! Must try it out. I miss my worry dolls from childhood!