Papel Picado for Children

Papel picado is a traditional cut-paper craft from Mexico.  What does it look like?

If you look at the covers of these picture books, you can see papel picado hanging as decorations:

The Dead Family Diaz
The Dead Family Diaz by P. J. Bracegirdle
Angelito Diaz is afraid of walking among the Living on the Day of the Dead, especially with his older sister, Estrellita, teasing him, but once in the Land of the Living, he quickly makes a new friend.

F is for Fiesta
F is for Fiesta by Susan Middleton Elya
A rhyming book that outlines the preparations for and celebration of a young boy’s birthday, with Spanish words for each letter of the Spanish alphabet.

Rubia and the Three Osos
Rubia and the Three Osos by Susan Middleton Elya
Retells the story of Goldilocks and the three bears in rhyming text interspersed with Spanish words, which are defined in a glossary.

You can take a closer look at cut paper panels in Carmen Lomas Garza’s book Magic Windows:

Magic Windows

The author and artist pairs cut paper panels with descriptions in Spanish and English.  She shares some of the personal stories and cultural background behind the images.

Two of your librarians had the great good fortune to attend a workshop Carmen Lomas Garza gave on making papel picado.  She wrote an excellent book on the topic, Making Magic Windows.

Making Magic Windows
The book has plenty of information for beginners, as well as advanced techniques for teenagers and adults.

You can also see examples of papel picado in some of her paintings in the bilingual books

Family Pictures/Cuadros de familia


In My Family
In My Family/En mi familia.

You can find more examples of Carmen Lomas Garza’s art on her website.  There are lots of good online resources for learning to make papel picado.  If you’ve never made it before, it’s easy to get started.  All you need are tissue paper and scissors, and the same kind of cutting and folding skills you use to make paper snowflakes.

Pat Mora has a good handout with papel picado instructions:

PBS Kids featured papel picado as a ZOOMdo:

The craft site DTLK also has instructions:

You can also watch a video:

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