Corn-Husk Characters

Corn-Husk Characters lesson plan

Explore a Native American tradition. These replica dolls bring back a delightful, historic craft.

  • 1.

    Find out how Native American and farm children in past generations made dolls from corn husks. Interview grandparents or other elders who might have made or played with these dolls. How were their Corn-Husk Characters dressed?

  • 2.

    To make replica corn husks for your own character, cut the seams of a brown paper lunch bag with Crayola® Scissors so it lies flat. Use Crayola Washable Markers to cover the bag with long brown, yellow, and orange lines, all in the same direction, for texture. Cover your work area with newspaper. Blend the marker colors slightly with a damp Crayola Paint Brush. Dry.

  • 3.

    Cut the bag into about 12 long and 6 short husks. Trim the ends so they look irregular and natural. Tightly tie one end of the longer husks together with yarn. Turn the tied end over, and pull the yarn ends out. Spread the husks around the tied end, then cover it. Tie yarn tightly around the husks to create your character's head.

  • 4.

    Tie the shorter husks near both ends for arms. Spread the husks of the longer piece in two. Insert the arm section, then tie your character at the waist.

  • 5.

    Complete your Corn-Husk Character in a way that is authentic to the time and culture of your choice. Cut hair from yarn or construction paper. Tie it to the yarn left at the top of the head. Add clothing, such as an apron, by coloring paper and tying it o


  • Children research traditional Native American and early American crafts including dolls made with corn husks.
  • Children design paper corn-husk characters in a manner similar to traditional corn-husk dolls.
  • Students dress their characters in apparel authentic to the period and culture.


  • Study the history of the earliest corn husk characters, which were created by Native Americans. A traditional Native American story is about the first Corn-Husk Doll, who was so beautiful that she became very vain, and wouldn't do her work. The gods punis
  • Make a family of Corn-Husk Characters to use as a centerpiece or place-markers for a harvest celebration.
  • Interview elders about other crafts, toys, and games that they made as children. For example, they also made dolls with holly-hock flowers. Compile a book of this information, and recreate as many of the ideas as possible. Involve family members and community elders in this school-wide intergenerational project.