· Students will learn about the art of making alebrijes, a tradition from Oaxaca, Mexico. This lesson will introduce them to alebrijes to prepare them for a visit from artist Armando Jiménez, who will demonstrate how the figurines are made.


  • Abecedario book by Armando Jiménez
  • Julio’s Magic book by Arthur Dorros
  • Modeling clay
  • Map


  • alebrije – traditional wood carving of Oaxaca, Mexico
  • arcilla – clay

Words from Julio’s Magic:

  • listo – ready
  • hola – hi
  • vámonos – let’s go
  • copal – tree that provides wood for alebrijes
  • fantástico – fantastic


10 minutes: Introduction.

  • We are going to talk about a type of art made in a part of Mexico called Oaxaca. Where is Mexico on the map? Mexico is the country just south of the United States. Here’s Oaxaca. What language do they speak in Mexico? That’s right, they speak Spanish in Mexico.
  • The type of art that Oaxaca is famous for is alebrijes. Alebrijes are figurines, usually animals, carved out of wood and painted bright colors.
  • In a couple of weeks you will be getting a special visit from an artist named Armando Jiménez who makes alebrijes, and he made this book showing some of his art.
  • Show (some) pictures from Abecedario book.

15 minutes: Julio’s Magic

  • Now that you have an idea of what alebrijes are, I want to share with you a story about a boy who was learning to make them.
  • Read story.
  • What did Julio decide to carve?
  • Why didn’t Julio send in his carvings?
  • What were some things people carved in the book?
  • What would you carve if you were going to make an alebrije?

15 minutes: Modeling alebrijes

  • Do you want to make your own alebrijes?
  • Now that you guys have some ideas of the different types of alebrijes that people make, we’re going to make our own out of clay. Each of you will get some clay and you can make up your own animal or figurine. Be creative! Remember how Julio got his idea from looking at the shapes of the branches? Maybe something you see in the classroom will inspire you. It might help if you make the different body parts separately and then put them together.