According to NationalGeographic.com, the Inca Empire included 12 million people and extended from Colombia to Chile. The Inca people left a record of their society in the form of elaborate ruins, musical instruments, jewelry, statues and hand-dyed cloth. Inca craft projects give children a chance to be creative with materials and tools that would have been familiar to the Inca themselves.
Provide children with clay--preferably earth-based clay, rather than a commercial product--and simple tools such as sticks, so they can make figures of people and animals the way the Incas did. Have books on hand with pictures of Inca art to give the children models to copy, just as young Inca artists may have learned from the finished artwork of their elders.
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NationalGeographic.com displays images of artifacts found in burials with Inca mummies. Some, like llama statues and small figures with feathered headdresses, provide simple models for craft projects. Some feathers from a dollar store or craft store glued to the clay figures put the finishing touch on a crafted headdress.
The Incas created Machu Picchu out of stone. Using clay to shape miniature sun-baked bricks gives children a chance to learn about ancient building methods. Gray clay provides a medium kids can use to make the building and crumbled stone shapes. Paper mache works well to create a hill in a shallow box for an Inca ruins craft project. Provide images of Machu Picchu as a model for the kids to follow.
Children can create an entire project in either clay or paper mache, or a combination of the two. Decorative moss from a crafts store makes suitable grass. This craft project combines well with a lesson on the discovery of Machu Picchu and the culture of the Incas.
Clay and simple tools, such as manicure sticks, are all children need to carve dimensional figures in clay. Relief carvings of Inca scenes from temples are a fitting craft project to combine with lessons on Inca temple architecture and a discussion of religious Inca symbols.
Children can learn to draw a design on damp clay with the manicure stick. Removing clay from the deep part of the carvings with the cuticle-pushing end of the stick tool gives the carving dimension, and the pointed end of the stick works to add details such as facial features. As challenging as this is in clay, the Inca artists created their works in stone. This project help build appreciation for a stonemason's skills.
Younger children can practice painting geometric shapes on pottery. Through the practice of handcrafts similar to those of the ancient culture, kids gain insight into what daily life was like during the time of the Inca civilization.