Make Your Own “Quijada” – A Jawbone Rattle

colorful quijadaHispanic Heritage Month is coming up in September and we’re starting early by sharing some of the more unique instruments found in Latin American cultures as well as ways you can craft your own clever versions at home!

What is A Quijada

The quijada is a wonderfully gross instrument from Afro-Peruvian culture made from the dried jawbone of a donkey.  Also called charrasga or quijada de burro, the unique sound of this instrument comes from the teeth rattling and buzzing in the dried sockets.

Although this might sound like an odd object to use to make music, if you trace the history of the enslaved people brought to Peru, they were allowed almost no personal items so it makes sense they “recycled” what they could find to continue making the music that was meaningful to them.

In more modern times, the quijada along with a box drum (called a cajón) and a little donation box (called a cajita) create the signature sounds of this beautiful and expressive music from the coastal region of Peru.

monster rattlesMake Your Own Quijada Craft

Since jawbones and animal teeth are not common materials, we’ve created a craft that uses the same idea of teeth rattling in empty sockets.  Although it’s a simple project, there are several ways to decorate and play an egg carton quijada, making it a fun addition to any home, school or homeschool music basket.

Gather Your Supplies

quijada suppliesAll you need is an empty egg carton and 12 items that fit inside the egg’s spaces.  Use anything you have around the house such as marbles, legos, beads, buttons, or dried pasta or venture outside for pebbles, rocks, acorns or small pinecones.

This is a fun way to learn to count to 12 and to understand the concept of “a dozen”.

Tape It Up!

Once you’ve put your 12 items in place, seal up the egg carton.  Be careful to tape over the holes that are often found in egg cartons so that none of the smaller objects come out when it is played like a rattle.

egg carton faces 2Decorate!

You can leave your rattle plain and simple, or create a cover for the top.  We’ve designed a series of “monster faces” you can download for the top of the egg cartons, available from TeachersPayTeachers.  Some are in color and some are colorable.

Feel free to give your faux donkey jaw a personality all it’s own!

How To Play An Egg Carton Quijada

sunita playing quijadaYou can play your egg carton quijada just like any other rattle.  Shake it up and down or back and forth.  Place it on the ground or in front of you on a desk or table and tap it to make it rattle.

You can also play it more like a quijada.  A traditional quijada is played by holding one side and striking the other with the side of your fist so that the teeth vibrate.   To play it this way, hold your monster rattle on one side and tap the other side gently with your fist to create a nice vibrating, shaking sound.

Links and Resources

Monster Faces for Quijada Craft

josef plays cajitaWhat is a Cajón – Free PDF from DARIA’s TPT Store

What is a Cajita – Free PDF from DARIA’s TPT Store


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