According to The Detroit Institute of Arts, African kings wore jewellery to display their wealth, securing their position of royalty. Even the smallest of jewels served to illustrate money, status and power. Combine a lesson in history and culture with arts and crafts by doing a project of African jewellery with your children. Although the jewellery you're creating has roots dating back thousands of years, supplies are inexpensive and easy to find. Craft fun designs while teaching kids about traditions and rituals of the African people.
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Cowrie shell brooch
Kids can learn about African culture while making an cowrie shell brooch. Cowrie shells were once the most popular currency in Africa, held higher than gold coins and used as bride wealth, fine payments and as tokens to the gods. The cowrie shell fell out of favour financially and is now seen in many accessories. Cowrie shells may be bought in bulk at craft shops or online.
To make a simple cowrie shell brooch, use an old, round circle pin -- from a standard round metal badge. Let your child glue a ring of shells around the outside of the pin, then create smaller circles into the middle. Add design to the brooch by gluing another ring of shells on top of the base layer, continuing to make a pyramid or other preferred pattern.
Teach kids about the Benin sect of African culture while crafting a coral necklace. Although the King and Queen of Benin wore coral headpieces and crowns, your craft project can be simpler. While true coral may be difficult and expensive to get, you can shop for coral-coloured beads, stones and designs. You can also turn the project into a painting game where your kids mix colours to try to paint their beads and stones as close to coral as possible (print out a photo of ancient coral). Let the painted beads dry (or use shop-bought ones) and then string them onto fishing twine or an elastic cord big enough to slip over the child's head.
The next time you and your kids take a trip to the beach, have them gather sea shells for their next craft project. Together, you can create a Tambakode, known as a sea shell necklace to the Senegalese and Gambians in West Africa. To stay true to tradition, drill a small hole in each shell and string them on a leather cord; you can also just use regular string or cord. The Africans believed this necklace would cure their hiccups soon after wearing it.