For the last few weeks we have been working on our Guatemala geography fair project. This year we decided to make our board very 3 dimensional. So we have been hard at work coming up with fun projects for our display. In a few weeks I will share our entire board as well as the books and resources we utilized and some of the other craft projects we did. If you missed it be sure to check out our Guatemalan weaving project.
This project was sparked by a book we read called Sawdust Carpets by Amelia Lau Carling and a recent fieldtrip to Home Depot. I remembered that during our Home Depot fieldtrip tour someone (maybe it was me) asked what is done with all of the sawdust they collect after cutting wood for customers. To my surprise they said they just throw it out...surely there must be something you can do with sawdust. Well guess what there is!
About the book:
The book was terrific and both children really enjoyed it. The story is about a Chinese family living in Guatemala who is invited to spend Easter with their cousins in Antigua. Every Easter Antigua puts on a spectacular Easter procession. During the procession there are beautiful statues, (which are a spectacular example of Spanish colonial art) that are carried during the procession by hundreds of penitents and wreathed in incense. And there are striking, intricate, sawdust carpets created on the cobblestone streets which the processions walk over and ultimately destroy. Guatemalans spend days creating these spectacular works of art using colored sawdust, fruit and flowers only to see them disappear within seconds. The main character becomes very sad when she realizes the sawdust carpet she and her cousins helped create will be ruined...until a neighbor explains, "This is the custom. We make the rugs as offerings to life." Two days later, on Easter Sunday, the carpet makers and the little girl begin planning their designs for the next year's procession. The book was a great way to teach the children about not only Guatemalan religious traditions, but also some Chinese religious traditions. We learned about the Goddess Kuan Yin, the Virgen de Guadalupe, Dragon Boat Races, Easter processions, pinatas, baptisms, Chinese tamales and more. I highly recommend it if you are learning about Guatemalan, Chinese or Central American cultures.
Sawdust Carpets craft instructions:
- Piece of sturdy paper (we used poster board which we cut into 8 1/2 x 11 pieces)
- Sawdust - make a trip to Home Depot or Lowes and ask them for a bag of sawdust. You may get a weird look but when you explain the project you are creating I am sure they will graciously give you a bag.
- Food coloring
- White glue
- Foam or plastic cups
- Plastic spoon
- Paint brush
- Optional: flower petals, pine needles and flour (these are other materials that are used to create sawdust carpets in Guatemala)
- Takes several cups and fill them about half way with sawdust.
- Add several drops of food coloring to each cup and stir until the sawdust is completely colored. We used about 10-15 drops per cup.
- Create a picture/design on the poster board with a pencil.
- Add glue to a section of the picture and smear it with a brush or finger.
- Then add the colored sawdust onto the glue (just like glitter).
- Keep adding sawdust to the picture/design until it is completely covered.
Sit back and enjoy the beautiful sawdust carpet creations which can be hung on the wall rather than being destroyed.