Lesson Plans for American Indian Turquoise Jewelry

The Indians of the American Southwest highly regarded turquoise, which represented blue water and green growing vegetation. Much trade went on between pre-Hispanic Mexico and the Southwest tribes because desert turquoise had such a rare and deep color.

Your students can make their own turquoise jewelry with a few materials you may have already in your classroom. You will need: white butcher paper, acrylic or tempera paints (blue-green, yellow-brown, red-brown, and dark brown), a small foam brush or sponge, small pieces of cut carrot, soaked beans (black, pinto, or red chili), embroidery needle, dental floss, scissors and glue.

To make turquoise beads, first put some blue-green paint on both sides of your white butcher paper with the brush or sponge. Put small dabs of the other colors, with lots of water added, to make the turquoise color a more genuine look. Spatter the paper with a dry toothbrush dipped in brown paint.

To make clay beads, use red-brown paint on both sides of your white butcher paper using the same techniques as above.

Now you are ready to form the turquoise beads. Cut the blue-green paper into 4-8 inch triangular strips and roll them up from the wider end. Put a little bit of glue on the end when you have rolled up the paper to that point. For the clay beads, cut the brown paper into 1-inch rectangular strips and roll and glue in a similar fashion.

To assemble your beads onto your string, use a needle and dental floss. Use the beans and carrots between the beads to make eye-catching patterns and designs!

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