The holiday of Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration of African American culture and traditions. Held each year from December 26 through January 1, Kwanzaa is centered around seven core principles, known as the Nguzo Saba. These principles include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
Incorporating Kwanzaa themes and symbols into classroom art projects and other activities is a great way for preschoolers to learn about this holiday that honors African American heritage. Below are 20 fun and easy arts and crafts ideas for celebrating Kwanzaa with young children.
Kwanzaa Arts and Crafts
Kwanzaa Mat mkeka
Need: Black paper, red and green squares
Directions: Glue red and green squares on the black paper do one square red one green cover the black paper with squares.
Need: Plastic champagne glasses, red, green, and black fabric paint.
Directions: Children decorate their cups with the paint then they take them home and share them with their families every night they take a drink from the cup.
Need: Long macaroni dye red, black, green, String
Directions: My children enjoy making Kwanzaa necklaces. Color long macaroni red, black and green. They can all wear theirs together to show unity (Umoja).
Make a Kinara
Need: Craft sticks, red, green and black paint, playdough or model magic
Directions: Children paint and decorate three craft sticks red, three green and one black for the middle candle. Children can stand them in playdough rollout and flatten a bit. Kinara (candle holder for seven candles)
Need: 8X11 red, black, and green construction paper and a plain piece of paper to glue strips onto.
Directions: Fold the construction paper into thirds length wise. Cut on the lines. Take one strip of each color and glue onto plain 8X11 piece of plain paper. This makes a Kwanzaa Flag which we display from string strung across the wall or ceiling. Each color is a symbol of the African peoples struggles and hopes.
Kwanzaa Memory Game
Need: Construction paper in red, green, black, paper bowls, glue
Directions: Cut construction paper into small squares. Write one of the 7 Kwanzaa principles on each square. Glue squares face down onto paper bowls. Let children take turns flipping over two squares at a time to make matches.
Need: Brown, red, green and black paint, large sheet of paper
Directions: Have each child dip hand in brown paint and press onto paper to make candle holder shape. Add red, green and black fingerprints for Kwanzaa candles.
Kente Paper Strips
Need: Construction paper in red, green, black and yellow, glue
Directions: Cut paper into 1 inch wide strips. Show children how to create simple plaids by gluing strips in patterns onto another paper.
Corn Husk Doll
Need: Corn husks, yarn or twine
Directions: Wrap corn husks around each other and secure with yarn/twine to form shape of person. Use extra husks for arms, legs and head.
Thumbprint Unity Cups
Need: Paper cups, red and green paint
Directions: Let children dip thumbs in paint and press alternately around sides of paper cups to symbolize unity.
Handprint Mkeka Placemat
Need: Black paper, red and green paint
Directions: Have children dip palms in red paint and make handprints on black paper. Repeat with green paint. This represents the woven mats used in Kwanzaa celebrations.
Paper Strip Baskets
Need: Construction paper strips, glue, small paper bowls
Directions: Show children how to weave paper strips in and out to form basket shapes. Glue completed baskets onto paper bowls.
Beaded Kwanzaa Necklaces
Need: Red, green and black beads, string or elastic cord
Directions: Let children string beads onto cord in Kwanzaa colors. Tie or fasten with clear tape when finished.
Recycled Candle Holders
Need: Empty aluminum cans, red, green and black paint, glitter glue
Directions: Have kids paint and decorate cans to look like Kwanzaa candles. Glitter glue adds sparkle and shine.
Kwanzaa Sensory Bin
Need: Rice or beans, red, green and black craft beads/squares
Directions: Add colored items to rice/beans bin. Let children search and sort by color while learning about Kwanzaa.
Paper Plate Tambourines
Need: Paper plates, beans, red and green ribbons
Directions: Put beans/noisemakers inside two paper plates taped together. Encourage kids to decorate plates with ribbons. Shake and make music!
Nature Print Placemats
Need: Leaves, green paint, paper plates
Directions: Have children coat one side of leaves with green paint and press onto paper plates to leave leaf prints.
Toilet Paper Roll Kwanzaa Dolls
Need: Toilet paper rolls, colored paper, glue, markers
Directions: Decorate empty rolls with colored paper to make Kwanzaa dress/clothes. Add features/face with markers.
Tissue Paper Kente Art
Need: Black construction paper, red, yellow, green tissue paper squares, glue sticks
Directions: Show children how to create Kente design by gluing tissue paper squares onto black background in rows.
Stamped Kwanzaa T-shirts
Need: Plain white T-shirts, Kwanzaa rubber stamps, fabric ink pads
Directions: Let children create their own stamped Kwanzaa shirts by applying ink pads to stamps and pressing onto shirts in repeat patterns.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the dates for Kwanzaa 2023?
Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26, 2023 to January 1, 2024. The week-long holiday honors African heritage and culture.
What do the colors of Kwanzaa mean?
The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red, and green. Black represents the African American people, red signifies their struggle, and green represents hope for the future.
What are some basic Kwanzaa craft supplies I should have on hand?
Some basic supplies include red, black and green construction paper; brown craft paper for making candle holders; aluminum pie tins or paper plates to use as tambourines; dried corn husks if available; natural items like leaves or acorns for printing; beads, ribbon, string, glue and scissors for jewelry making.
What principles does Kwanzaa focus on?
The seven key principles honored during Kwanzaa are Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. Discussing the meanings of these principles with preschoolers helps develop cultural awareness and positive values.
Should my students say “Happy Kwanzaa”?
Yes! The appropriate greeting during Kwanzaa is “Happy Kwanzaa!” much like saying “Happy Holidays!” or “Happy New Year!”. Children in a multicultural classroom setting will enjoy learning to say “Happy Kwanzaa” to classmates celebrating this heritage focused holiday in December.