Immigration Lesson with Pinata Art Project

The immigration lesson is an important lesson because the some of the students have been affected directly by immigration.  This lesson often evokes strong emotions in the students who have seen family members sent back to Mexico or have heard stories about loved ones being lost as a result of political conflict in their country of origin.  The goal of this lesson was to teach the students that there have been periods of time in American history when the country considered immigration a benefit, and other periods of time when there has been extreme xenophobia.  By explaining the different waves of immigration beginning in the late 18th century to today, the students began to see the ways that politics and economics affect the country’s view on immigration.  The teachers were open to have side conversations with individual students if they had questions or wanted to discuss their own stories.

We wanted to end the lesson with an art project to bring the students together and encourage creativity so we decided to make mini-pinatas.  The project was relatively simple, but was much more time consuming than I had anticipated.  I would recommend saving at least 45 minutes to an hour for this project; but it was worth it!

Easy-to-Make Piñatas


• hole punch
• brown lunch sacks
• scissors
• brightly colored tissue paper (Try to use a variety of colors.)
• heavy yarn or string
• glue
• ruler
• candy or small prizes


Cut the tissue paper into 4″ (10 cm) strips. (If you place several sheets of tissue one
on top of the other and fold in half twice, you can cut more strips at a time.  Use a sturdy pair of scissors.) Next, fringe the tissue strips by making many cuts along the edge of the strips.  Be sure to leave a 1″ (2.54 cm) uncut edge at the top of the strips.

Glue a tissue strip around the outside of paper bag, starting at the bottom of one side of the bag and continuing around each side until you meet the place where you began.  Cut the tissue and start a new layer.  Position the next strip so the fringe hangs down and covers the glued area of the first layer.  Glue this next strip around the bag as you did the first.  Continue adding each layer until you reach the top of the bag.

Use the hole punch to punch holes about 2″ (5 cm) apart around the top of the bag.  Weave the yarn or string through the holes, as shown in the picture.  Next, fill the piñata with candy or prizes, pull the string or yarn so the bag is closed tightly, and secure it with a knot.

Glue colorful streamers to the bottom of the bag for a more festive look!  Hang your piñata in a place where you can play the piñata game.  Blindfold the players and have each, in turn, hit the piñata with a yardstick or rolled up newspaper until it is broken and all the goodies fall out.  Enjoy!