Beavers – Play maracas for the Brazilian Carnival

In the lead up to Lent, Brazil celebrates Carnival. Join in by making your own maracas and make lots of noise! This helps towards your international badge. Email a photograph of your finished maracas!

You will need

  • Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Dried food (for example, pasta, beans, rice)
  • Sticky tape
  • Stapler
  • Glue sticks
  • Paper plates (two per person)
  • Samba music (optional)

Make your maracas

  1. Use sticky tape or glue to attach a lollipop stick onto the front of a paper plate. About a third of the stick should be on the plate, the rest should stick out of the bottom like a handle.
  2. Decorate the bottom of both paper plates – make them as colourful and fun as possible. How about adding some decoration that moves when you shake the maracas?
  3. Put the plates on top of each other, with the colourful sides facing outwards.
  4. Attach the plates together, leaving a hole so you can fill the maraca. You can use the stapler to staple around the edges, or stick the plates together with glue.
  5. Pour dried food into the maraca. Experiment with a combination of different sizes – do lentils sound different to pasta?
  6. Seal the hole using staples or glue.

You may want to use sticky tape to make sure the maracas are extra secure.

Celebrate carnival!

  1. Play the samba carnival music
  2. Shake your maracas and see what noise their maraca makes!

The Brazilian Carnival

When is it?

The Carnival of Brazil happens in late February or early March – the date changes as it depends on when Easter is. The Carnival happens just before Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter in the Christian faith. It happens between noon on Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent, the day after Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day) and the Friday before.

Why does it happen?

The Carnival of Brazil was originally a Catholic food festival that happened before Lent; it gave people a chance to celebrate, eat and do what they wanted before Lent began. People would give up certain foods during Lent, especially meat – the word carnival comes from carnelevare, ‘to remove meat’.

What happens?

Carnival has become a huge event in Brazil. Different regions of Brazil celebrate differently, but celebrations often involve music, dancing, costumes, and food. In southeastern cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paula, huge organised parades are led by samba schools, and members of the public watch. In other cities in the northeast, including Salvador, the public joins in with the parade.

People may eat food including feijoada, a stew made of beans and meat, and vatapá, shrimp with a nut sauce. Sweet foods may include doce de leite, sweeter, darker, and creamier caramel. Cakes, or bolo, are also popular, whether bolo de fubá (a traditional corn flour cake) or bolo de laranja (orange cake).

Samba music is a Brazilian music genre and dance style. It’s recognised around the world as a symbol of Brazilian Carnival.


Maracas are a percussion instrument, which means they make noise by being struck or shaken. They’re traditionally made from dried gourds like pumpkins or melons. They have three parts: the bell, the filler in the bell, and the handle.

We don’t know for sure where maracas came from, because their origins have been traced to several regions including Columbia, Brazil, and Paraguay. They’re often used in Latin American dance bands.


I hope you had fun making these – here is one of the maracas sent to me – made from Actimel bottles, Foil, Pasta and Spoons.