Brazil is a country full of celebration, life and music. Gather your craft supplies and the kids and get them to participate in making Brazilian crafts. As they paint and paste, they can learn more about the history and culture of this beautiful country.
The word "maraca" is a Brazilian word meaning "percussion instrument." Make your own maracas from two clean, recycled yogurt cups. Paint the cups, the lids and two ice cream sticks in bright colors and let them dry. Fill the cups half-full with uncooked rice, popcorn kernels or beans. Glue the lids to the cups with a glue gun. Make a slit in the lids and glue the sticks inside the lids. When the glue is dry, the kids are ready for shaking and music making.
The pandeiro is a Brazilian tambourine. Make your own with two small, white paper plates. Paint the bottoms of the plates in bright colors and designs. Decorate with stickers, jewels and foam shapes. Face the insides of the plates together and punch six to eight holes through the two thicknesses equidistant around the edge. String small jingle bells on pipe cleaners and tie the plates closed by putting the pipe cleaners through the holes. You are ready to shake the pandeiro.
The Mardi Gras celebration in Brazil is called Carnaval. Make a mask that you might wear to a Carnaval parade. Buy a plain black mask at a craft supply store. Glue a tongue depressor to the back edge so you can hold the mask up to your eyes. Decorate the front with glitter, sequins, feathers and jewels. Make a beaded necklace to go with your mask and you'll feel part of the Carnaval tradition.
In the Amazon jungles of Brazil, native people called Yanomami use bird feathers to make headdresses and armbands. Make your own headdress and armband using supplies from the craft store. Buy a bag of colorful feathers, or cut feather-shaped pieces out of colored construction paper. Draw lines on the paper to resemble the markings of a feather. Cut a 1-inch strip of posterboard to fit around your upper arm or your head. Glue or staple the feathers to the strip and staple the band closed.