On Mother Language Day

Date: February 21, 2018

Despite a wide array of international efforts to preserve it, the Assyrian language is steadily on the decline. Our believed mother tongue is losing out to English and other world languages, particularly among younger generations of Assyrians, as more and more become a part of the diaspora community.

Too often do we take it for granted. It’s almost as though because the language has survived thousands of years, through war and displacement, we feel that it will simply continue to do so without our active efforts. Think about this: Nearly everything you learned about in your history classes–from the Middle Ages to William Shakespeare to the signing of the Declaration of Independence–occurred while there were Assyrians somewhere in the world speaking their rich language.

It is our duty as Assyrians to pass the language on to future generations. Preserving an endangered ancient language is a huge undertakingand often times it might seem like too great of a challenge. We must make a choice to accept its preservation as our duty. Take the initiative to learn your language: Accepting this responsibility is the only way to ensure its survival.

“We understand the beauty of our mother tongue when we are abroad.”
George Bernard Shaw 

This International Mother Language Day, we’re sharing 10 small ways you can do your part:

    1. Subscribe to Bet Kanu–the “House of Creation.” Founded by a talented group of young and dedicated Assyrians in Syria, Bet Kanu offers a wide range of products designed to make learning the Assyrian language easy and enjoyable. Available in both Eastern and Western dialects, Bet Kanu products are used and loved around the world. From mobile apps to games, songs (click here to watch the “Finger Family” song in Assyrian), and videos, the team at Bet Kanu makes available modern resources to learn an ancient language. Be sure to check out KANU KIDS for adorable mini-series like the hit “Nino & Mia” that will spark interest in even the youngest Assyrian minds–teaching them the language and valuable lessons!
    2. Download Base 2 Applications apps. Take a look at their popular Assyrian apps available to you in the App store. Their apps will make learning the alphabet fun at any age.
    3. Visit LearnAssyrian.com. This website is a wonderful resource, but requires serious commitment. Grab a sheet of paper and a pen, and get ready to teach yourself using their free 41-page guide. If you’ve got little ones at home, Learn Assyrian is also home to the wildly popular Assyrian alphabet learning blocks. Order yours today!
    4. Attend classes at the ANCI. The Assyrian National Council of Illinois offers Assyrian language classes for both children and adults in the Chicagoland area. Take advantage of these free courses; before you know it, you’ll be reading right to left with ease. Assyrian language classes are offered across the United States. If you’re outside Illinois and looking for a class near you, feel free to contact us for help.
    5. Check out SargonSays.com. Sargon Says offers an English to Assyrian dictionary that is an incredible resource to those looking to refine their language skills, as well as those new to the language.
    6. Stop by The Ashurbanipal Library. Our library here at the AUAF has tons of resources available for anyone looking to learn the Assyrian language, like Dr. Simo Parpola’s famous Assyrian-English-Assyrian Dictionary.
    7. Enforce the popular “Assyrian Only” rule in your home–and not just when the grandparents are around.
    8. Challenge your friends. The next time you guys are hanging out, challenge each other to use only Assyrian. It may seem weird at first, but it can also be fun.
    9. Make a pledge to learn the Assyrian alphabet by the end of this year. Here’s a great video from Rinyo to help you do so!
    10. Watch video lessons created by Modern Assyrian on Youtube.

Somikka: The “Assyrian Halloween”

Date: October 11, 2017

Fall brings with it many great things—cool crisp morning air, leaves in all sorts of beautiful colors, football, and Halloween. Just twenty days away, the holiday that marks the end of October each year is a favorite among young children who get to dress up—superheroes, witches, and princesses are always popular choices (it looks like Belle from Beauty and the Beast will replace Frozen’s Elsa at the top spot). Most believe the American tradition traces its roots back to an ancient Celtic festival called “Samhain” (pronounced sow-in).

Communities around the world observe holidays similar in theme to Halloween. In Mexico and across Latin America, for example, there is Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead—which also stems from ancient Aztec tradition.

For Assyrians, there was “Somikka,” an ancient tradition that is still practiced today in parts of the Assyrian homeland. Rooted in the word “soma” meaning fast, some sources say that the holiday was founded as a way to motivate Assyrian children to observe fasts, particularly during Lent, where Christians adopt a vegan diet for the seven weeks leading up to Easter. Others claim the tradition pre-dates Christianity. Somikka would always take place the day before a fast began. It is said that when it was first created, young men would dress up in costumes and visit young children in their homes, essentially to scare them into fasting.

Regardless of its origins, today, Somikka happens twice a year: the day before the Nativity Fast, and the day before Lent. Children dress up wearing masks and makeshift costumes (there are no Party City stores in Assyria), and go door to door in their villages to collect candy and money.

Assyrian children celebrating Somikka in Khabour, Syria.

On Halloween, children say “trick or treat,” but Assyrian kids during Somikka have to work a bit harder before they get their treats and move on. Each time they visit a new home, they’re expected to perform a fun song called “Qatona.” Check out the short clip of Assyrian children in Sarsing below to hear it. Though some of the lyrics vary from village to village, they are the same for the most part.

The tradition allows Assyrian children final chance to indulge on their favorite treats before the fast begins, and is still very popular among Assyrians, namely in Iraq and Syria.

AUAF at the first-ever Assyrian Food Festival in Chicago

Date: August 30, 2017

We had a blast this weekend taking part in the first-ever Assyrian Food Festival, presented by the Assyrian Church of the East. The festival took place in Morton Grove, a suburb of Chicago, and was attended by thousands of local residents, including local officials. From delicious dishes to traditional dance, the weekend was a beautiful celebration of the Assyrian culture.

AUAF was proud to participate in the event as a sponsor. Our Fine Arts Program also hosted a fun activity in the Kids Zone, giving hundreds of children the opportunity to paint their very own Gilgamesh sculpture. Gilgamesh was the main character in the Epic of Gilgamesh a poem from ancient Assyria that is considered the first great work of literature.

Festival co-chair Julie Kako expressed her thanks to AUAF, “Our committee would like to thank AUAF for your support. The kids had a blast painting.” Parents also appreciated the activity. Lina Eshaya, whose daughter participated, said the following, “Thank you so much for bringing out this fabulous art activity for the kids!”

Check out our full photo album here.

Our Fine Arts Assistant Director Rabel Betshmuel was very impressed by some of the artwork. At AUAF, one of our goals is to identify Assyrian Americans with exceptional talents at an early age, and enable them to engage their talents to become effective cultural leaders. We strive to empower Assyrian students and provide them with the tools they need to excel in pursuing artistic studies and careers. Our programs are free for Assyrian students. Click to learn more and register. We’re excited to announce new art classes starting this fall. Stay tuned!

Cuneiform Kits for Kids

Date: August 14, 2017

Cuneiform is a system of writing developed in ancient Mesopotamia c. 3500-3000 BC. The name comes from the Latin word cuneus for ‘wedge’ owing to the wedge-shaped style of writing. In cuneiform, a reed was pressed into soft clay to produce wedge-like impressions that represent word-signs (pictographs) and, later, phonograms or ‘word-concepts’ (closer to a modern day understanding of a ‘word’). Ancient Assyrians used cuneiform until it was abandoned in favor of the alphabetic script.

Here’s a simple and fun way to teach your kids about what it would’ve been like to write like an Ancient Assyrian. We recently had a several field trip groups stop by AUAF, and came up with this fun take-home activity. Cuneiform Kits are a huge hit with the kids. They’re a great touch to a goodie bag, and a fun way to keep kids busy at the next family gathering.


  • Play-Doh (any colors)
  • Avery labels
  • Stylus
  • Cuneiform alphabet key
  • Treat bag with twist-tie


  1. We started by covering the Play-Doh logo with labels we printed that read: “The past is set in stone, but the future is unwritten.” We purchased these Avery labels and printed them ourselves via www.avery.com/print. This step is optional—we just thought it added a nice touch.
  2. Print cuneiform alphabet keys. You can find different versions online (the symbols evolved over time), but we’ve done a lot of digging and found one that works very well with children. Download it here (PDF). To save paper, you can display the key on a tablet instead.
  3. Find something to use as a stylus. We ordered these wooden styluses for cheap from Amazon. You can try other items (i.e. Popsicle or lollipop sticks) but they don’t usually work as well.
  4. Fill a treat bag (we got ours from Walmart) with one of each item: Play-Doh, stylus, and key. We resized the key so that it fit. Use a twist tie to seal.


  1. Children should spread their Play-Doh out so that it resembles a clay tablet.
  2. Using the cuneiform key as a guide, they should try to spell out words in ancient cuneiform. The possibilities here are endless. With younger kids, we recommend giving them a list of words to write in cuneiform on their “tablet.” Some ideas: their name, Assyria, their favorite color, their favorite animal.
  3. Once they’re ready to start a new word, they simply roll up the Play-Doh and restart.
  4. If you’re working in a group, it’s fun to have the kids write a word for their peers to decipher.
  5. Once finished, all items should go back in the bag and be stored away for next time.

Check out some photos from St. Mary Assyrian Church of the East School’s recent trip to AUAF. They loved the activity and were excited they got a Cuneiform Kit to take home. 


Plan a Family Trip to The Art Institute of Chicago

Date: June 14, 2017

This past weekend, our Fine Arts Program organized a field trip to The Art Institute of Chicago—one of the world's most famous museums. We saw this trip as an opportunity to expose our students to various types of art from diverse cultures, and use student interest and curiosity as a starting point for exploration. It is one of our goals here at AUAF to broaden student perspectives of both art and the world. We hoped our trip would inspire them to understand significance in various types of artworks.

Check out a highlight video from our trip.

If you've ever taken your child to a museum, you certainly know just as well as we do that it's difficult to keep children engaged (and quiet) for long periods of time when they've got nothing to do. We created an easy scavenger hunt activity for our students which kept them on the look out for select paintings, and asked questions designed to help students unveil meaning in each one. They really enjoyed it! As you can see in the above video, it retained their interest and kept them focused the whole way through (phew).

The Art Institute has so much to offer kids and families. Children under the age of 14 are admitted free of charge. Download our Art Institute scavenger hunt activity for your family trip. We recommend only taking pencils (just to be safe), and be sure to give the kids something to write on (we used mini-clipboards).

Tip: General admission to The Art Institute is free for Illinois residents every Thursday from 5:00pm to 8:00pm. 

Click to download AUAF's Art Institute Scavenger Hunt (PDF).

Here are The Art Institute of Chicago galleries that you will have to visit in order to complete our activity:

Additional Resources

Make a Mini-Piñata for Kha b’Nissan

Date: March 29, 2017

As a tribute to the traditional twelve-day celebration of the Assyrian New Year, we’re sharing unique ways to honor Akitu no matter where you are in the world as we count down the days to Kha b’Nissan 6767.

It can be tough to get the little ones in the spirit of the new year. But sometimes, a simple, small activity can do the trick. Here’s an easy craft that is guaranteed to bring you smiles this Saturday morning.


  • Toilet paper roll
  • Tissue paper (dark and light blues, white, red, yellow)
  • Tape
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun (optional)
  • Small candy


  1. Cut your tissue paper into strips. The strips should be about 6 inches long, and 2.5 inches wide. You should have two strips of each color.
  2. Fold the strips in half “hot dog style.” Tape the strips down to your table so that the folded end is facing you.
  3. Snip vertical lines along the tissue paper strip. We recommend snips be about a centimeter wide, but you can cut these as you like.
  4. Cut two square sheets of tissue paper. You will need one to cover each of the holes, so use the holes as a guide for size. Cover the bottom hole using one small square of tissue paper. Secure with tape. Don’t worry about what it looks like because it will be covered. Make sure you only use a single piece. Doubling up might seem like a good idea now, but it will be a problem later.
  5. Starting from the bottom, select a strip of tissue paper prepared in step 3 to wrap around the roll. We recommend using the same colored tissue paper as the piece you chose to cover the bottom hole. The tape should be used to position the strip.
  6. Work your way up until the whole roll is covered, covering the top of each strip with the fringe of the next one.
  7. Make confetti by cutting up extra strips of tissue paper into tiny bits.
  8. Fill the paper roll with small pieces of candy and your homemade confetti. We used Hershey’s Kisses.
  9. Cut a piece of ribbon to serve as your handle.
  10. Use a glue gun to secure the handle. The two ends should be placed inside the circle directly across from one another.
  11. Use the glue gun to trace along the top rim of the roll. Place the second sheet over the top and trim away the excess.
  12. Cut piece of ribbon several inches long and tape to the bottom so that it hangs.
  13. When you pull the bottom string, it will tear open the bottom. Out will come the candy and confetti. Happy New Year!

5 Important Reasons to Teach Your Kids Assyrian History

Date: March 24, 2017

As a tribute to the traditional twelve-day celebration of the Assyrian New Year, we’re sharing unique ways to honor Akitu no matter where you are in the world as we count down the days to Kha b’Nissan. 

Most diaspora-born Assyrians have a vague sense of their history. They know, for example, that it spans thousands of years. They’ve heard and repeated the phrase “the cradle of civilization.” They can probably name a few famous Assyrian kings, and they surely know of Queen Shamiran. Fast forward a couple thousand years—they also know that our modern history has been defined by genocidal violence. But that’s about it.

If you’re a parent, you certainly don’t need to be told why it’s necessary that you’re involved in your child’s education. However, it can be difficult to figure out what subjects to prioritize now, and what can wait until they’re older, especially with limited resources available to you. But’s important to expose them to Assyrian history. Here’s why:

  1. Children develop a greater appreciation of history when they learn it early.
    Studies have shown that skills children are taught to appreciate at an early age translate into good habits and deep passions as they grow and mature. Take, for example, a child that spends every Sunday cheering on the Chicago Bears with her parents. She will likely become a Bears fan for life (and also develop serious levels of patience). Or consider a child who takes music lessons—he’s far more likely to continue to practice as an adult. A child who goes fishing with his father, and so on. While learning Assyrian history is not exactly a recreational activity, it can be fun. Children enjoy fun facts and interesting stories. Spend some time talking about the history of the great nation of which they are descendants. Keep reading for ideas on how to provide them with opportunities to ask questions and seek answers about their history.
  2. They will not learn about Assyrian history in school. Most Assyrian-American students will never hear the word “Assyrian” uttered by their teachers, nor will they see it printed in a textbook. Those that do might come across it once or twice while flipping through pages when searching for their assigned reading, but its is never a part of a school’s curriculum. While Assyrian history is certainly not the only one that’s overlooked, it must be prioritized in Assyrian households. It is absolutely important to encourage children to learn about the history of Western nations, but it’s just as important to realize that their history classes will exclude information about Assyrians. This will have lasting negative effects on their understanding of their own history, as it’s likely they will come to accept its exclusion as a lack of importance. Spend time personalizing Assyrian historical figures and events for your children. Check out our list below for ideas on how to do this. They should have the opportunity to learn about topics and important events related to Assyrians that they will not be learning in class.
  3. It will help shape their identity as an Assyrian. As children grow and mature, there is a natural, increase desire for them to explore their roots—they want to know who they are and where they come from. Learning Assyrian history can provide Assyrians of any age with a better sense of their identity, including children.
  4. Exposing your child to Assyrian history will help them develop qualities like empathy and tolerance.
    Learning about your ancestors and cultural heritage is essential. For most Assyrians growing up in American schools, they naturally view the histories of other peoples, including their own, as foreign. Giving them the opportunity to study Assyrian history will help broaden their perspective. They will come to understand and appreciate that there is more to the world than what they’ve known. A child who is taught about other countries and backgrounds is more likely to grow up to be compassionate, socially-aware, and tolerant.
  5. Learning about Assyrian history helps children build connections with their community.
    A child who has been given the opportunity to explore their own history is more likely to get involved with their community later in life. This can mean many things—perhaps they will get involved with the Assyrian Athletic Club, pursue Assyrian studies, or become a social activist—regardless, they will recognize the importance of their involvement. They will grow up feeling connected to other Assyrians, and will appreciate the sense of belonging.

Here are some easy ideas: 

  1. Visit The Ashurbanipal Library at AUAF. As the largest collection of Assyrian texts outside the homeland, you will find almost everything by Assyrians or about Assyrians under our roof. Not only will they find plenty of books on Assyrian history, but they will appreciate the experience.
  2. Take a trip to the Oriental Institute. The museum’s Assyria Collection will leave any young one in awe of their history.
  3. Try one of our Assyrian-themed arts and crafts activities. They provide the perfect opportunity to talk to your kids about their history, and gets the little ones engaged.
  4. Encourage your children to select an Assyrian book or figure for their school project when possible.
  5. Share with them important documentaries focusing on Assyrians. The Last Plight is a moving documentary that’s a must-see for all Assyrians. Though it’s only ten minutes long, it packs a heavy message. It may not be appropriate for your youngest kids, but those in the double-digits should see it. It’s guaranteed to spark all the right questions.

How to make a tissue paper Assyrian flag

Date: March 21, 2017

The first of April—or Kha b’Nissan—marks the Assyrian New Year, also known as Akitu. In ancient Assyria, the new year was celebrated for a period of twelve days. Now, after thousands of years, Assyrians are spread all over the world, but continue to honor the holiday annually.

As a tribute to the twelve-day custom, we’re sharing unique ways to honor Akitu no matter where you are in the world.

Looking for a fun way to get your kids thinking about Akitu? The Assyrian flag is a great place to start. Here’s a simple, inexpensive craft that will give you the chance to talk to them about Assyria and the new year.


  • Tissue paper (red, blue, white, light blue, yellow)
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Pencil
  • Card stock
  • Marker
  • Picture of Assyrian flag (print out or electronic)
  • Cardboard (optional)


  1. Cut tissue paper into small squares (2×2 is a good size). You will need more red, blue, and white squares for the piece. A good technique is to start by cutting tissue paper into strips, and then proceed to cut the stacked strips into squares. They don’t have to be perfect—it won’t matter later.
  2. Draw an Assyrian flag onto a blank piece of card stock. We made the star a bit larger than usual. The color of the paper and the marker doesn’t matter. We used a standard 8.5×11 sheet, but this project will work with any size. You can use regular sheets of paper if you don’t have card stock handy, but using a thicker stock will ensure the flag doesn’t flop around once finished. You may choose to glue the sheet (card stock or not) to a piece of cardboard before starting. While we recommend this, it’s not necessary.


  1. Start by wrapping a square of tissue paper around the pencil’s eraser, and dip the end into glue.
  2. Using the pencil, press the tissue paper onto the sheet. Children should have a picture of the Assyrian flag handy to use as a guide. We started from the very center of the Assyrian star, working our way out. Don’t worry about getting the pieces to look “right.” As you continue to fill the flag, it will come together.
  3. The red and blue lines might be difficult to replicate using tissue paper. Don’t stress over this—the tissue paper will give them a fun, organic look.
  4. While working, consider talking about the symbolism of the Assyrian flag.
  5. Once finished, allow flag to dry.
  6. Display the piece in your home to celebrate Akitu, or gift it to nana and jedo. Either way, it’s sure to brighten up any room. Smaller versions can be used to decorate a bouquet.

If you give it a try, please be share to share your photos with us! Use #12DaysofAkitu and tag us on Facebook.

Looking for more Assyrian-themed art projects to try with your kids this Kha b’Nissan? Check these out: 

  • Ishtar Gate Mosaic: This unique mosaic-style art activity will give your child the opportunity to recreate one of the most iconic Assyrian sites.
  • Little Scribes: Your child will learn how to write like an ancient Assyrian—on a clay tablet!
  • Assyrian Metalworking: A fun art activity that will give kids a look at an ancient Assyrian industry.

Art for Kids: Ishtar Gate Mosaic

Date: December 8, 2016

The Ishtar Gate is one of the most iconic sites in the Assyrian homeland. Erected during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II, it was the main entrance leading to the city of Babylon. At one point was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Gate was built in honor of the Assyrian goddess Ishtar—the goddess of love, fertility, and war. Built using glazed bricks, it stood nearly 40 feet high. The walls were adorned with depictions of flowers, lions, bulls, and dragons using colored tiles. For this project, we’re zooming in on the famous lion design depicted on the Ishtar Gate.

Our unique mosaic-style art activity will give children the opportunity to reflect on and explore Assyrian heritage. A mosaic is a picture or pattern produced by arranging together small colored pieces of hard material, such as stone, tile, glass—or in our case, paper!



  • Small foam board
  • Scrapbook paper (shades of blue, brown, grey, yellow)
  • Glue stick
  • Black marker
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or markers
  • Paper-cutter (optional)


  1. Print out the above image to serve as your inspiration. If you look closely, you’ll notice the discoloration that occurred with time. We chose four colors to help recreate this aged look: navy blue, royal blue, light blue, and grey. We also got a few shades of browns for the bottom bricks for the same reason, but only one yellow color (with an orange tint). You’ll need more blue than any of the other colors.
  2. Once you’ve chosen your colors, start by cutting the scrapbook paper into strips. These will be used to create the bricks. We used a paper-cutter for this step, but you can use scissors instead if you don’t have one at home. Try and gauge how many strips you’ll need—we used only one strip of each color and two of the navy blue.
  3. Rip the strips into small pieces. Vary the sizes and the shapes—this will make for a more interesting art process and a cooler final product. Don’t use a scissors for this step, as the irregular, softer tear will result in a more natural look when you start piecing the bits together. Sharp edges won’t give you the same effect.
  4. Now, onto your foam board. Using a pencil and a ruler, draw out a brick design. Try to get the bricks to be about the same size.
  5. Go over the pencil design with a black marker. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. It won’t matter in the end.
  6. Finally, find a “coloring-book image” of a lion on the internet. We tried googling “roaring lion coloring book page” (and all variations of that phrase), but couldn’t find one we liked, so we went with this one instead. Adjust size as necessary to fit your board, and print it out.


  1. Share the Ishtar Gate image you printed with your children, and allow it to serve as their guide during this project. A quick intro is appropriate here—maybe a few words on Ishtar herself and the magnificent gate that was built in her name. Encourage children to examine the image and share with you what they see in detail.
  2. Give the kids their foam boards, explaining to them that they have to fill in the bricks with the scraps of paper using a glue stick. The bottom row should be brown, as pictured here, and the rest a mix of the blues. Give them free reign here, but the same way that they are taught to color inside the lines, they should try to keep the scraps inside the brick lines. The straight edges on each piece will help them fit the pieces in. Pieces can (and should) overlap one another. Some white space is okay.
  3. Once their board is filled, kids should turn their attention to their lion. You can choose to bring him to life with the same paper-mosaic process, but we’ll be honest—that’s a little ambitious. Kids will likely be tired at this point. We simply used crayons to color ours. Once done, cut him out.
  4. Using a glue stick, attach the lion to the foam board. Make sure his feet line up with the brown bricks. The end result is awesome.


  • For younger kids, consider a larger foam board and larger scrap pieces. Small bits like the ones pictured here may prove too daunting a task for the little ones.
  • Swapping the foam board for construction paper or card stock works just as well if you’re trying to minimize costs.
  • Look at other images of the Ishtar Gate for other variations—i.e. Maybe try to recreate the flower design as opposed to the lion.
  • If doing this in a group or classroom setting, hang all of the designs together to create a wall.
  • If you’re trying to save time (or if your child generally loses interest quickly), consider tracing the lion on the board and instruct children to fill only the blocks outside its shape.



Glue Art for Kids: Ancient Assyrian Metalworking

Date: December 2, 2016

The Assyrian Empire is known for its rich material culture—magnificent stone wall reliefs, colossal gateway figures, and legendary towers. Often overlooked, however, is Assyrian metalwork. Assyria had a thriving metalworking industry, considered superior to any contemporary state in the region. Much of ancient Assyrian metalwork was excavated from the Assyrian city Nimrud between 1949 to 1963. Assyrians produced large quantities of sophisticated bronze and ironwork—some of which were intricately decorated.

Here’s a unique art activity for you to try with your kids. It’s simple, exciting, and gives kids a reason to use glue for a purpose other than gluing (which is pretty much their dream come true). The only catch—it’s a two-day project. Luckily, both parts to this project are equally exciting.


  • Cardboard
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Pencil
  • Metallic acrylic paint (stick to gold, bronze, and silver colors)
  • Paintbrushes (or sponges)
  • Photos of ancient Assyrian patterns



  1. Take some time to google “Assyrian art patterns.” You will find many exquisite designs that can serve as your inspiration for this project. Print some of your favorite images to be your guides when drawing out the patterns. You can make this step part of your prep work, or you can decide to do it with your child. Either way, before getting started, be sure to take some time to discuss the various geometric patterns, the similarities between designs, and common features—such as the Assyrian stone rosette. Also, talk to them about the history of metalworking.
  2. If the kids are old enough, they may be able to do this step on their own. But for the younger ones, you’ll want to include this as part of your prep. Using a pencil, draw Assyrian-style designs on pieces of cardboard. Different sizes will make for a more interesting project, but we recommend that you keep the shape to a rectangle “plaque.” Keep the designs simple, both to remain true to Assyrian designs and to avoid winding up with a big blob of glue when we get to the next step. We simply cut up cardboard boxes to use for our plaques.
  3. Now that you’ve got your patterns down on the cardboard plaque, use Elmer’s glue to trace over the pattern. Remind the kids to go easy on the glue, and have them start at the top and work their way down. Your child may not follow the design exactly (it’s tough for even adults to do!), and that’s perfectly fine—the end result will still be great.
  4. Let the glue dry overnight. It will dry clear.
  5. Once dry, have the kids use paintbrushes (or sponges) to paint over the designs using the metallic acrylic paints. Be sure to cover the entire plaque. Encourage children to paint in streaks for a smoother end result—but of course it’s okay if they don’t.
  6. The plaques will dry quickly. Once they do, they look awesome! The kids will love the process and their final pieces—we promise.


  • We picked up all of our paints at Michael’s Craft Store. We went with Emperor’s Gold, Venetian Gold, Rose Gold, Worn Penny, and Shimmering Silver (all DecoArt products). Never pay full price at Michael’s. They’ve always got great coupons on their site, and be sure to check out RetailMeNot where you might find a better deal. It varies.
  • When letting the glue dry, be sure the cardboard is set on a completely flat surface. Otherwise, the glue will slowly but surely start sliding across the plaque, distorting your design, and will likely drip over the edge.