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African Arts & Crafts for Kids

Kids can learn about Africa while creating fun arts and crafts projects. Some of the projects make interesting decorations, while wearing and playing with the others provides added fun. Africa has a rich history of arts and crafts that provide many ideas for replication. Many projects require just simple supplies found around the home. However, they can also be created with higher quality materials for a more sophisticated craft for older kids.

Hats and Cloth

Kids love to create crafts that they can wear. Have kids make paper or felt kufi hats. Traditional African kufi hats have tops of bright red, yellow, and green, with black used around the hat brim. The simple shape of the kufi hat makes it a very simple craft to complete with kids, using either paper or felt.

This African craft imitates the cloth used to make some articles of clothing in Africa. Weavers create kente cloth by hand on a loom then sew long strips together. The colours have special meanings. After reading about the meaning of the colours, have kids use markers to make a bright line design on thin strips of white paper. If desired, tape all the pieces together to simulate the making of a large piece of kente cloth.

Crafts to Play

Make some crafts for kids to play. Mancala, or kalah, challenges the strategy skills of both kids and adults. Its simple directions make it a suitable game for children of any age. Make this game easily out of a cardboard or foam egg carton and some pebbles, marbles, or beans. Then teach them how to play this skill-building African game.

Have younger children make a drum. Drums have long been a part of African culture. Kids love playing drums and making it themselves only adds to the fun. Create this craft from large, recyclable coffee cans with lids. Use fun foam, felt, paper, twine, feathers, markers, or any suitable items to decorate the drum with an African design.

Decorative crafts

Crafts kids can hang in their rooms might include an African mask. Traditional African masks often feature animal motifs or distorted human faces in bright colours. Make them from brightly coloured construction paper, cut into a face shape on which you glue or colour distorted or exaggerated facial features of animals or humans. Older kids may enjoy making the masks from plastic milk jugs. These make interesting mask models.

Help kids learn about useful African objects with another decorative craft by making a papier maché bowl with an African design or a mkeka mat. These simulate the types of everyday household objects that might be found in an African home. Make the bowl using an easy papier maché recipe and a real bowl as your mould. The mkeka mat is woven from strips of paper in any African colour. You might also make it with felt strips.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Stover, an 18 year veteran teacher and author, has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Maryland with a minor in sociology/writing. Stover earned a masters degree in education curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas, Arlington and continues to work on a masters in Educational Leadership from University of North Texas. Stover was published by Creative Teaching Press with the books "Science Tub Topics" and "Math Tub Topics."