How to Make a Terracotta Warrior School Project

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The discovery of the Terracotta Warriors, a vast army of more than 8,000 clay soldiers in China, was a major find for anthropologists and art historians worldwide. Each sculpture is different, possibly modeled after individuals in Emperor Qin's army around 220 BC. In addition to the soldiers, the tomb of Emperor Qin also contained some of his court's entertainers. Doing an elementary school project about the Terracotta Warriors can be both fun and educational for students and teachers alike.

  • Old newspaper
  • Paint brushes
  • Water
  • Flour
  • Gray paint
  • Black paint
  • White paint
  • Bowls

1 Learn the History

Molds were used to make the faces of the warriors, but each one was enhanced by hand.

2 Teach students

Teach students the history of the Terracotta Warriors. Read passages aloud from your selected source.

The warriors were painted, but they turn gray when exposed to air.

3 Talk about the purpose of the army

Talk about the purpose of the army. Let students propose possible reasons for creating the sculptures.

China's ancient culture was very different than its modern one.

4 Talk about Chinese culture

Talk about Chinese culture from the Qin dynasty. Explain that much of China's legacy was destroyed and why it is important for a culture to preserve artifacts when it finds them.

5 Paper Mache Warriors

Paper mache is a great standard for children's crafts.

6 Tell students

Tell students that they will be making their own version of the Terracotta Warriors -- Paper Mache Warriors.

Writing about people they know is a great character writing exercise for children.

7 Have each child

Have each child make a list of three important people in their lives. They should write a page about each person.


8 Give each child three balloons

Give each child three balloons (one for each head they will be making) and set up their workstations. Have them mix two cups of flour with six cups of water to make the glue.

Balloons help make a nice round shape.

9 Blow up the balloons and place strips

Have the children blow up the balloons and place strips of newspaper coated with the glue mixture over the balloon until it's covered. They should do this with three balloons each.

According to ancient historians, it took more than 700,000 people over 36 years to make the warriors, although this is now being disputed.

10 When the paper mache is completely dry

When the paper mache is completely dry, have students use the gray, black and white paint to paint the faces of their three chosen people. Now they have their own Paper Mache Warriors.

Sara Cooper began writing professionally in 2006 as a contributing writer, columnist and blogger. She is also an award-winning playwright and lyricist. Additionally, Cooper has six years of experience in education as a teaching artist, adjunct faculty, and educational program director in New York City. MFA and BFA, New York University.