Traditional African Crafts for Kids

Written by sarah schreiber
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Traditional African Crafts for Kids
Traditional African masks can be duplicated. (Red African Mask image by Paul Hampton from Fotolia.com)

A craft project is a way for children to learn about another culture in a hands-on manner. The African continent is rich in crafting tradition, and there are many traditional African crafts that kids can replicate. Before starting the project in the classroom or with your child, take the time to explain the significance behind it. Even a simple craft project has the opportunity to become a teachable moment.

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African Drum

For a project that's as fun to play with as it is to create, make an African drum. You'll need plastic or foam drinking cups, glue, masking tape, shoe polish, glue, rags and a marker. Glue the bottom of two cups together and let dry. Cover both tops of the cups with masking tape. Then completely cover the outside of the cups with masking tape. To imitate the textured look of leather, brush shoe polish onto the masking tape and wipe off with a rag. Find some pictures of a traditional African drum and draw onto your drum the geometric shapes commonly found.

Mancala Game

Mancala is a popular African game that has been around for centuries. It's easy to replicate the game with a cardboard egg carton. You'll also need brightly coloured paint, glue, game pieces and two paper cups. Beans or small stones can be used for the game pieces. Cut the egg carton in half, removing the lid from the base. Turn the lid so the hollow part faces the table and glue the base to the top. Paint the egg carton and cups in geometric patterns typically found in African art. Once dry, this two-player game is ready to play.

In each egg cup, place four of the game pieces. Each player "owns" the side of the carton to her right. One paper cup goes on each end. The first player takes all the game pieces out of a cup on his side of the board and places them one at a time in each successive cup in a counter-clockwise direction, including in his own paper cup if he reaches it. If the last stone lands in the player's paper cup, he takes another turn. If the player's stone lands in an empty cup on his side of the board, he can keep any stones that are in the opposite cup. Players go back and forth until the stones are gone.

African Mask

Masks play an important part in certain African cultures and are easy to duplicate. Find a design online or in a book that you'd like to duplicate. Choosing one with basic shapes may be easier to reproduce. Draw the face onto a cardboard box and cut it out. On a large piece of cardboard, draw the shape of the mask and cut it out. Glue the face onto mask. Paint the mask with the colour and design of your model mask. If you wish to wear the mask, add small eye holes and a string to go behind your head.

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