My Kwanzaa Family.

Kwanzaa Crafts for Kids

Making Kwanzaa crafts for kids is a great way to pass time while you wait for the holiday celebrations to begin.

Kwanzaa is a holiday that celebrates the cultural heritage of African-Americans. It focuses on aspects of the strong tribal traditions of African culture, and is celebrated with various ceremonies and activities that take place during the last week of the year.

It was first celebrated in 1966 when Californian Ron Karenga wanted to give his fellow African-Americans a holiday that did not have its origins in European or white culture.

Find inspiration and learn about great Kwanzaa craft projects in this article.

  • Barotse Bowl: This bowl is inspired by the traditional crafts of the Barotse tribe in Zimbabwe.
  • Egg-citing Safari: Learn how to make a colorful centerpiece with African animals made from eggshells.
  • African Gold Weights: These African animal figurines were once used as currency -- now you can make them just for fun.
  • Kwanzaa Bag: Make a rustic bag for all your Kwanzaa decorations, or give it away as a present.
  • Sign My Kwanzaa Tablecloth: Start a wonderful tradition this year that embraces all of your loved ones.
  • Animal Cracker Magnets: You probably already have fun playing with animal crackers before you eat them, so why not use them to decorate your fridge?
  • Animal Anklet: Find out how to make tiny little animal beads and use them to create anklets for the holidays.
  • My Kwanzaa Family: Show everyone how much your family means to you by making this lovely project.
  • Kwanzaa Calendar: Make a calendar to help you keep track of the fun to come during the seven days of Kwanzaa.
  • Kwanzaa Party Favors: It's easy to make a little something for your guests to take home from your party. Learn more here.
  • Kwanzaa Candle Surprise: These faux candles light up the holidays.
  • Tie-Dye Party Napkins: Make special napkins for your Kwanzaa celebration.
  • Woven Kwanzaa Mat: It is not difficult at all to weave this symbol of history.

The first project has its roots in the African Barotse-tribe and their traditional crafts. Learn how to make a genuine Barotse bowl.

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Barotse Bowl

Making bowls is a traditional craft of the Barotse tribe of Zambia -- make a Barotse bowl to hold Kwanzaa treats.

What You'll Need:

Round, shallow plastic bowl with lid

Newspaper

Liquid starch

Large bowl

Paper towels

Sandpaper

Dark brown paint

Paintbrush

Clear varnish

The Barotse people make beautiful carved wooden bowls to use in the home.

To make one for your home, tear newspaper into 1- to 2-inch-wide strips. In a large bowl, soak the strips in liquid starch for 10 minutes.

Take the lid off the plastic bowl, and turn the bowl upside down. Paste the strips one by one onto both the bowl and lid until they are entirely covered. Let this layer of newspaper dry. Add three more layers of newspaper strips, letting each layer dry before applying another. Each time you add a layer, change the direction of the strips to make the bowl strong.

Use paper towels soaked in starch to form two bird shapes. Attach the birds to the top of the lid with more starched paper towels.

Let your bowl and lid dry for a couple of days. When ready, lightly sand the edges of the bowl and lid. Paint them dark brown to resemble dark wood.

When the paint is dry, paint the bowl and lid with the varnish to seal them. These bowls make lovely gifts.

You are probably going to have a great big Kwanzaa feast with your family this year. Learn how to make a centerpiece of colorful animals with our next project, the "egg-citing" safari.

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Egg-citing Safari Kwanzaa Craft

Egg-citing Safari

Put the animals of Africa into a beautiful centerpiece with an "egg-citing" Kwanzaa safari -- a fun children's holiday craft project.

What You'll Need:

Eggs

Long hat pin or toothpick

Bowl

Cardboard egg carton

Markers, paints

Construction paper

Scissors

Plate

Cellophane grass

An adult may need to help you with the first part of this craft.

To make a blown egg, stick a hat pin into the top of a raw egg and carefully dig away small bits of shell to make an opening 1/8-inch wide. Use the pin or a toothpick to stir the egg inside to break the yolk so it can be blown out.

Make a tiny hole in the other end of the egg. Blow through this hole so that the egg's insides will come out the other side. Make sure you are holding the egg over a bowl while you blow.

When the egg is empty, put it under the tap and run water through it. Dry the egg, and put it back in the egg carton until you are ready to use it.

Cut apart the egg cups of the cardboard egg carton. To make each animal, glue one blown egg on top of one upside down egg cup. Color each egg carefully with markers or paints.

When dry, paint on the faces of your favorite African animals -- elephants, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, zebras, lions, and mandrills. Cut out construction paper horns, ears, trunks, tusks, and manes. Carefully glue them on. When the animals are dry, they can be arranged on a plate with cellophane grass for an egg-citing Kwanzaa centerpiece.

Animals are such a central part of traditional African culture. The next project teaches you to make traditional African gold weights, animal figures that were once used as money.

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

African Gold Weights

African Gold Weights, an ancient form of African currency, is a fun Kwanzaa craft for kids -- and makes an excellent gift for the holidays.

What You'll Need:

Salt

Hot water

Flour

Bowl

Mixing spoon

Craft stick

Spatula

Oven mitts

Gold paint

Paintbrush

Before European coins or paper money reached Africa, gold weights were used. These weights were in the shape of different animals: goats, chameleons, birds, porcupines, snakes, and frogs.

To make the clay, mix 1 cup salt into 1-1/2 cups hot water. Ask an adult to help you so you don't burn yourself. When the mixture cools, add 1 cup flour, and mix until smooth. Add another cup of flour and continue to mix with a spoon. Add the last 1-1/2 to 2 cups flour by kneading the clay with your hands. If the clay is sticky, add more flour. If it is dry, add a little more water, a few drops at a time.

Ask an adult to preheat the oven to 300 degrees. When your clay is ready, roll it flat with a rolling pin on a floured counter. Use a craft stick to draw the outline of each animal -- each should be 3 or 4 inches long. To make a snake, roll a rope and coil it around.

Use a spatula to lift the animals off the counter and place them on a cookie sheet. Bake the animals for 30 minutes.

When cool, paint the animals gold. Start your own collection or give them away as gifts.

Now that you're well on your way to start a collection of gold weights, you'll need a place to put them. Learn how to make a Kwanzaa bag with our next project.

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Kwanzaa Bag

The beautiful Kwanzaa bag is a great gift -- full or empty -- and an easy holiday craft activity for both kids and adults.

What You'll Need:

Burlap

Ribbon or cord for drawstring

Marker

Embroidery thread and needle

Scissors

Cut a piece of burlap 10x14 inches. Along the 14-inch side, fold the burlap down an inch to make a tube. Sew the bottom of this tube closed, leaving the sides open so you can thread a ribbon or cord through it for the bag's drawstring. Tie the ribbon or cord to a safety pin, and thread it through the tube. Then make a knot.

Use a marker to write the word "Kwanzaa" on the bag's front. Draw some decorative shapes or lines around the word if you wish.

Use embroidery thread in the traditional African colors of red, green, and black to sew along the word Kwanzaa and whatever else you have drawn. Then fold the bag in half so that the drawstring is at the top and the design is on the inside.

Stitch the sides of the bag together; turn the bag right side out. You can give the empty bag as a gift, or fill it with small toys or Kwanzaa treats.

The next project is a wonderful way to start your very own Kwanzaa tradition, and to preserve memories of great Kwanzaa dinners. Learn how to make a Kwanzaa tablecloth.

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

Sign My Kwanzaa Tablecloth

Start your own Kwanzaa tradition with the "Sign my Kwanzaa tablecloth" holiday project -- it is a lovely craft piece that will help you preserve fun memories year after year.

What You'll Need:

Flat twin-size bed sheet or white tablecloth

Fabric markers

Decorate the center of your fabric with Kwanzaa symbols: corn, candles, African animals, silver goblets, the African flag, etc.

At the Kwanzaa party, invite your guests to write their names, the date, and a special Kwanzaa message. The tablecloth can be brought out, reread, and added to each year.

On the next page, learn how to turn tasty animal crackers into fun Kwanzaa fridge magnets

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

Animal Cracker Magnets Kwanzaa Crafts

Animal Cracker Magnets

Making animal cracker magnets is a simple and fun holiday craft activity. Paint the animals in traditional African colors and put them to work holding up all your Kwanzaa and holiday greeting cards.

What You'll Need:

Animal crackers

Permanent markers

Clear nail polish

Magnetic strip

Scissors

Glue

Celebrating the traditional African holiday of Kwanzaa may put you in the mood for an African safari. Create a whole herd of colorful wild animals.

Select the animal crackers. Gently color them with markers in the traditional African colors of red, green, and black. Make sure you don't press too hard while you color, unless you want to end up with a headless or tailless beast!

Brush a light coat of clear nail polish over the colored crackers. Let dry. Turn crackers over, and coat the back of the beasts with nail polish also; let dry.

Cut a small piece of magnetic strip for each beast. Attach the magnet to the cracker with glue. Again, be careful when you press on the crackers. Stick your beautiful beasts to the refrigerator!

Coming up is another great project involving the wild animals of Africa. Learn how to make anklets that you can wear to your next Kwanzaa gathering.

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

Animal Anklet

Holiday crafts are not only about decorating your house -- this Kwanzaa activity is all about decorating yourself with cool animal anklets.

What You'll Need:

Self-hardening clay

Craft stick

Thin wire

Needle

Paints

Paintbrush

Clear varnish or nail polish

Small plastic beads

Scissors

Thread

Wear some of Africa's special creatures to your next Kwanzaa party. These bird and animal beads are so small that you can string together a whole herd!

To make your tiny bead animals, roll self-hardening clay into balls the size of grapes. You can make elephants, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, or anything else you want. Use a craft stick to help you form legs, ears, horns, and trunks. Use small pieces of thin wire to make tails or tusks.

Poke a needle through the back of each animal to make a hole. Turn the needle gently to make the hole big enough for thread to pass through. Let the animals dry until the clay is hard.

Paint the animals with bright colors. When the paint is dry, paint the animals with a coat of clear varnish or nail polish. Measure a length of thin wire that will fit comfortably around your ankle. Leave a little extra to make a hook and loop to open and close the anklet.

String small plastic beads onto the wire. Then thread a needle with colored thread and make a knot. Thread the needle through a small bead on the anklet and then through one of your clay animals. Thread through a few more beads; tie the thread onto the anklet so that the animal hangs down.

Repeat this process with the rest of your animals, tying them onto the anklet every inch or so. Make two anklets -- one for each leg.

Families are an important part of the Kwanzaa celebration. Go to the next page to learn how to make a Kwanzaa family.

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My Kwanzaa family

My Kwanzaa Family

My Kwanzaa Family is a wonderful holiday craft project that shows everyone how much your family means to you.

What You'll Need:

Materials:

Tracing paper

Pencil, scissors

Decorative scrapbook paper or poster board: 7x9 inches red, 5x7 inches green, 4x6 inches yellow, 5x5 inches brown

Stapler

Craft glue

Black fine-point permanent marker

Patterns:

Child's head

Father's and mother's head (cut 2)

Child's body

Mother's body

Father's body

Father's hands (cut 2)

Child's hat

Father's and mother's hat (cut 2)

Download the Kwanzaa Family pattern, trace, and cut out the father's body pattern on red poster board or scrapbook paper. Repeat for the mother's body pattern using green paper and the child's body pattern using yellow paper.

Trace and cut out two head patterns for the mother and father, one child's head, and two father's hands from brown paper.

Trace and cut out two hat patterns for the mother and father using green paper and one child's hat pattern from red paper. Set aside.

Bring the "arm" parts of the father's "body" together, overlapping the arms in front and stapling them together. Repeat with mother and child cutouts. Glue heads onto the bodies of the mother, father, and child.

Trace the patterns onto colored paper before you cut them out.

Decorate the hats with leftover paper or poster board scraps. Let dry. Fold the father's hat in half, bringing the short ends together, and staple or glue the hat to the father's head. Glue a strip of paper around the bottom of the hat to cover the staple and act like a hat band. Repeat for the mother's hat and the child's hat.

Decorate the hats then use glue to attach them to the father, the mother, and the child.

Insert the bodies one inside the other, turning them so the child is cradled at the center of the family. Draw the fingers on the father's hands with the black marker, then glue them to the front.

Kwanzaa is celebrated for an entire week, so keeping track of what festivities happen when can be hard. Go to the next page to learn how to make a great calendar to help you remember it all.

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Kwanzaa calendar with seven pockets -- one for each holiday principle.

Kwanzaa Calendar

The Kwanzaa calendar is a kids' craft that is sure to delight everyone. It is fun to make and is as colorful as it is helpful.

What You'll Need:

Materials:

Felt: 8x11 inches green, 8x8 inches yellow, 8x11 inches red

16x20-inch black pennant

Ruler

Scissors

Glittering gold dimensional paint

2 yards and 4 inches yellow satin ribbon (1 inch wide)

Craft glue,

4 yards and 8 inches medium-width bright green rickrack

Tracing paper

1 yard and 14 inches gold metallic cord

Patterns:

Small pocket (cut 6)

Large flap (cut 1)

Small flap (cut 6)

Large pocket (cut 1)

Cut three green, two yellow, and two red 1x5-inch pieces of felt. Carefully write the following words on the felt with dimensional paint (you may want to lightly write the words first in pencil): Unity, Self-Determination, Purpose, Creativity, Sharing by All, Cooperation, and Faith. Let the paint dry, then trim the ends of the felt pieces to within 1/4-inch of the words.

Write the seven principles of Kwanzaa on pieces of felt.

Cut the ribbon into two 17-inch lengths and two 21-inch lengths. Glue the 17-inch lengths of ribbon vertically on the black felt, 1/2 inch from the sides. Cut two 17-inch lengths of rickrack, and glue them side by side on top of each 17-inch length of ribbon.

Fold over and glue the ends of the 17-inch pieces of ribbon and rickrack to the back of the black felt. Glue two 21-inch lengths of ribbon horizontally on the black felt, 1/2 inch from the top and bottom. Glue two 21-inch lengths of rickrack side by side on top of each 21-inch length of ribbon. Fold and glue the ends of the 21-inch pieces of ribbon and rickrack over to the back of the

black felt.

Using the patterns below, trace and cut out pockets and flaps from the felt as follows: three small each from green, two small each from yellow, one small and one large each from red.

Pocket patterns for the Kwanzaa calendar.

Arrange the pockets, flaps, and words on the black felt as shown. To glue the pockets to the black felt, glue the bottom of each pocket first, then slightly push in the sides of the pocket and glue them. (This will loosen the pockets to allow space for gifts.) Glue the top edge of the flaps about 1/4 inch above the pockets. Glue the words above the flaps.

Cut seven 6-inch lengths of gold cord. Tie a bow in each length, then evenly trim the ends. Glue a bow to each pocket flap. Turn the calendar over. For hanger loops, cut two 4-inch lengths of gold cord. Fold each length in half to form a loop, and glue the ends of a loop in each of the top corners on the back of the calendar.

Hosting a feast in celebration of Kwanzaa means making party favors. On the next page, learn how to make party favors in traditional African colors.

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

Kwanzaa Party Favors Kwanzaa Crafts

Kwanzaa Party Favors

Make a miniature flag as a party favor for each person you invite to your holiday karamu, or Kwanzaa celebration feast. It's an easy craft activity that everyone can take part in.

What You'll Need:

White construction paper

Scissors

Red, black, and green markers

Craft glue

Toothpicks

Cut small rectangles (about 1-1/2x1 inches) from white paper. Color the top third of each rectangle red, the middle third black, and the bottom third green.

Glue each of these flags to a toothpick pole by dabbing glue on the back edge of each square. Then roll the glued edge around a toothpick.

Stick the decorated toothpick in a cupcake or other food to make the flag stand up -- and the goodies stand out!

Homemade Kwanzaa candles also make great party favors. On the next page you can learn how to make these colorful candles yourself.

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

Kwanzaa Candle Surprise Kwanzaa Craft

Kwanzaa Candle Surprise

The Kwanzaa candle surprise is made with pretend candles in red, green, and black that are filled with little secrets. They make a great holiday craft project for kids and grownups.

Adult Help Needed

What You'll Need:

Paper towel tubes (1 tube will make 2 candles)

Scissors

Craft glue

Black, red, and green construction paper, orange or yellow tissue paper

Ruler

Individually wrapped candy

Nuts in the shell

Small prizes

Cut each tube in half (ask an adult for help with the cutting.) Then glue a piece of black, green, or red construction paper to each tube.

Cut a 10-inch square of tissue paper, and place candy, nuts, and a small prize in the middle of the square. Gather the tissue paper up around the prize, and push the wrapped candy and prize into the tube so the ends of the tissue stick out like a candle flame.

For party favors, make one for each person at your table. You could also write each person's name on a candle and use them for name cards for dinner.

Tie-dyeing is a traditional African craft. The next project teaches you how to make unique napkins using this method.

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

Tie-Dye Party Napkins

Making tie-dye party napkins is a colorful Kwanzaa craft for children that involves using a traditional African method of fabric dying. These unique napkins will be perfect for the holiday table.

What You'll Need:

Seeds

Stones

Wooden clothespin

Craft glue

Glue seeds and stones onto a wooden clothespin.

When the glue is dry, wrap the clothespin with a white napkin and wind string around it. Secure the ends of the string with a knot. Leaving the tip white, dip and dab your napkin in bowls of different colored dye.

You may wait for each color to dry before re-dipping if you wish, or you can let the colors blend.

When the entire napkin is dry, cut away the string and open up the napkin to see the design. Each one will be quite different.

The final Kwanzaa project in this article is the mkeka, a woven paper mat that is the Kwanzaa symbol of history.

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

Woven Kwanzaa Mat Kwanzaa Craft

Woven Kwanzaa Mat

Make a woven Kwanzaa mat or mkeka, one of the seven symbolic items of the African-American Kwanzaa holiday. This craft project is so easy that children can make it on their own.

What You'll Need:

Black, green, and red construction paper

Scissors

Ruler

Tape

The mkeka (a woven mat) is the Kwanzaa symbol of history.

To weave a mkeka, cut parallel lines in a piece of black construction paper. Cut the lines starting 1 inch from the bottom edge to 1 inch from the top edge. To make cutting easier, fold the paper in half and cut starting from the middle going toward the edge.

Unfold your black "loom," and cut strips of red and green paper for weaving. Weave the strips of paper in and out of the black loom, alternating red and green strips.

After weaving, secure the paper strips in place by taping the back of the mkeka. To make a more decorative mat, you can weave with colored ribbon instead of construction paper.

For more fun activities and crafts for kids, see:

ABOUT THE CRAFT DESIGNER:

Bartose Bowls, by Lisa Lerner, Kersten Hamilton

Egg-citing Safari, by Lisa Lerner, Kersten Hamilton

African Gold Weights, by Lisa Lerner, Kersten Hamilton

Kwanzaa Bag, by Lisa Lerner, Kersten Hamilton

Sign My Kwanzaa Table, by Lisa Lerner, Kersten Hamilton

Animal Cracker Magnets, by Lisa Lerner, Kersten Hamilton

Animal Anklet, by Lisa Lerner, Kersten Hamilton