Kokeshi Dolls

      As part of my schools Art Show – Art Around the World, I decided to focus a few of the lessons on the beautiful hand crafted dolls from Japan.DSC00180

Lesson Plan

History and Vocabulary

‘Kokeshi Dolls are made of wood and have no arms or legs. Kokeshi dolls have simple design painted on them. The original dolls were always female and made quite small – only a few inches tall (Modern kokeshi dolls can be male).’

Hina Matsuri – Japan’s Doll Festival; on this holiday. families with young daughters set up a display of dolls inside the house, prepare rice paddies and other food, and pray for the healthy growth and happiness of the girls.

Kokeshi – Traditional Japanese dolls originally from northern Japan

Lathe – A machine tool used in woodworking which spins a block of wood so that when abrasive or cutting tools are applied to the block it can be shaped to produce an object with rotational symmetry.

Prefecture – an administrative district, similar to a county in western society; Japan is divided into 47 prefectures.

Making and Creating

Students firstly drew a design by looking at images found on the internet of traditional and modern dolls. Of course many boys chose the ninja! They then took a polystyrene ball for the head and a polystyrene cone (if you have a cylinder this would be more effective) for the body and stuck them together. This could be done with magi-clay or with glue.

Then using magi-clay, student’s added shape around the cone and added the features such as hair, clothing, swords.


When finished they spent time carefully painting their dolls.



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