Southwestern Silver & Turquoise

Southwestern Silver & Turquoise lesson plan

Make a beautiful Navajo-style bracelet. Students explore traditional jewelry-making with this silvery Southwestern-U.S. project.

  • 1.

    Native American silver workers of the U.S. Southwest learned their craft from earlier Mexican and Spanish artisans. The Mexican silversmith Nakai Tsosi taught Atsidi Sani, the first Navajo to learn silver smithing. Navajo silver smithing was first recorded in 1868. Since then, it has become a popular art form.

  • 2.

    Early Navajo silver pieces have a great deal of symbolic meaning in the shapes and types of materials. Find out about this early silver work. Try to discover the meanings of these objects.

  • 3.

    To create a silvery turquoise-colored bracelet of your own, mix a small amount of green and blue Crayola® Washable Paint into white Crayola Model Magic. Work the paint in with your hands to create a consistent color.

  • 4.

    Tear off several small pieces of the modeling compound. Shape them into small stones. Add a little more blue or green paint, rework the Model Magic, and repeat the process. Change the color of the turquoise several times, until you have a collection of slightly different colors of stones. Wash your hands.

  • 5.

    Crumple up the sides of a small piece of aluminum foil so it resembles a narrow plate or tray. Place a drop of Crayola School Glue into the center of the foil. Press your slightly-dry Model Magic turquoise into the recessed part of the foil.

  • 6.

    Use your fingers to slightly pull apart the surface of the slightly dry Model Magic, creating cracks. Use a black Crayola Fine Tip Marker to color in these cracks. Wipe off the surface of the turquoise with a damp paper towel. Your turquoise will look lik

  • 7.

    Press the crumpled edges of the foil with the flat end of a Crayola Colored Pencil. Punch a few small holes in the middle of the foil with the sharpened end of the colored pencil.

  • 8.

    Use colorful, thick thread to string your bracelet pieces together. Add ties on both ends when you are finished.


  • Children research the history of Native American silver and turquoise jewelry making in the U.S. Southwest.
  • Children relate Southwestern silver work to Spanish and Mexican silverwork.
  • Students design a replica turquoise and silver bracelet.


  • Examine many different samples of silver and turquoise jewelry with children who have special needs. Look at photographs. Talk with artisans.
  • Create other silver and turquoise jewelry in this same manner. Make a ring by creating a plain band that fits your finger. Attach a silver and turquoise section to the top. Tape the top piece in place.
  • Use Model Magic with red and orange tempera to create coral pieces. What other stone effects can you create with paint or Crayola Washable Markers? What happens if you add sand to the modeling material?
  • Explore how turquoise is mined and polished before it is made into jewelry. Learn about the production of silver, too.