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Wooden Peg Dolls: Kokeshi

Thank you to all who entered the Beautiful Oops journal giveaway.  The winner has been randomly chosen and notified… and that winner is Amanda Shaw.  Congratulations!

When I was at the NAEA conference two years ago, I saw a station where people were making wooden Kokeshi dolls in the vendor area.  Every time I walked by it, either it was too full or I had to be on my way somewhere else.  So, I didn’t make one.  But, I found the lesson plan online, which you can see at the Dick Blick website here.

Here are what traditional Kokeshi dolls look like.

Modern Kokeshi dolls can be found in many unique styles!

My 3rd grade students study Asia, so I usually teach them about some art from that region.

We watched this short video documentary about Kokeshi Dolls and how they are made.  (It’s an informative video, but there is some brief nudity at about the 2:45 mark, so make sure to jump over that part.)

The students started by making sketches of designs for their dolls.  They had some wonderful ideas. However, I never require them to make their final sculpture the same way they made preliminary sketches.

Kokeshi Doll Sketches

After learning about Kokeshi and drawing them, they made their own Kokeshi dolls.  Click on the “materials list” section on this link: supplies you could use.  We used wooden pegs, wooden turnings, Model Magic and wood glue for our dolls.  We also used Sharpie markers, acrylic paints, ribbons, fabric and more.  I encouraged the kids to take the wooden turning or peg doll and make it their own.  They could make any sort of style or design on the sculpture.

Kokeshi Dolls from wood pegs

Kokeshi Doll Art Project

Kokeshi Dolls Kids Art Project

As you can see from some of the sculptures, the students came up with many unique ideas for their dolls.  I love this Babar elephant.  We had a lot of wooden pegs, so many students made multiples to go together.

Wooden Peg Dolls for Kids

This was a very popular project and some kids in other classes were disappointed that their class was not making dolls.  A few girls in older grades were working with clay and found some extra time to make Kokeshi dolls from clay! (the top right and the bottom left are made from kiln fired clay). Wow!  I was so impressed by their motivation and dedication.

Clay Kokeshi and Wood Peg Dolls

This is a good book for reference:

This is a cute book of Kokeshi stickers.  I had these out as well for the kids to get ideas.

What do you think?  Have you used wood pieces to make your own dolls?

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About Marcia Beckett

Marcia is an elementary art teacher and loves painting, drawing, sculpture, art journaling and clay. Her blog, Art is Basic, features many exciting art projects for kids.

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