10 Kwanzaa Crafts and activities for Kids: Ideas for Art & Craft Activities to make Kinaras, Mkeka Mats, Corn for African American Children, Teens, and Preschoolers.
What is Kwanzaa and why is it celebrated?
Kwanzaa starts the day after Christmas (Dec. 26) and ends on New Year’s Day. It is a weeklong celebration honoring African beliefs and traditions. Dr. Maulana Karenga introduced the festival in 1966 to the United States as a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home.
What are the 7 principles of Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa celebrates seven principles (“Nguzo Saba” in Swahili), including:
- Unity (umoja), signified by the gathering of family, friends, and community
- Faith (imani)
- Purpose (nia)
- Collective work and responsibility (ujima) – the commitment to the high ideals of the African community
- Cooperative economics (ujamaa)
- Self-determination (kujichagulia)
- Creativity (kuumba)
How is Kwanzaa Celebrated?
A Kwanzaa feast is enjoyed by family and friends. In addition to the seven principles, the Kwanzaa celebration includes seven core symbols that have Swahili names and represent traditions, cultures, and community.
- Kinara — The candelabrum is symbolic of ancestry.
- Mishumaa Saba— Seven candles stand for the seven core principles.
- Mazao — Crops represent the harvest, community and working together.
- Mkeka — A woven mat represents foundation and tradition.
- Muhindi — Corn is symbolic of children and the future they exemplify.
- Kikombe Cha Umoja — The unity cup is symbolic of unity and remembrance.
- Zawadi — Gifts reflect parents’ labor and love, plus the commitments made by children.
If you’ve never celebrated the holiday before (or you have but want to learn even more), you’ve come to the right place. One core tenet of Kwanzaa is giving gifts to loved ones, but why not try going all DIY with it?
10 Kwanzaa Crafts and Activities for Kids
The following crafts projects use materials found around the house, like grocery bags, cardboard, paper, boxes, string, crayons, paint, glue, etc.
During Kwanzaa, seven candles are held in a special candleholder called a Kinara. Here’s how to create a clever flameless Kinara and boost your child’s creativity and fine motor skills. Download this free activity from Education.com
2. Make a Paper Plate Kwanzaa Kinara & Mishumaa Saba
The Mishumaa Saba consists of seven candles. One black candle represents the people, or unity, and gets placed in the center of the Kinara. The 3 red candles represent the people’s struggles and 3 more green candles symbolize the future and hope that can come from struggle. Use craft sticks as well as a paper plate to put this Kinara together. Don’t forget to check out the colors of Kwanzaa with this Kinara craft via Craft Club.
Mazao, the crops (fruits, nuts, and vegetables) Symbolizes work and the basis of the holiday. It represents the historical foundation for Kwanzaa. Make a handmade Kwanzaa felt set so the children could learn how to put together a Kinara and what Mazao objects that go with it – courtesy of Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit.
With only construction paper and scissors, kids can create contrasting weaved mats in celebration of the African-American holiday like Make & Takes shows us
5. Make a Kwanzaa Fingerprint a Corn on the Cob – Muhindi Craft
Kwanzaa is the festival of the first harvest of the crops. Corn was a very important crop. Use this fun fingerprinting technique to make corn on the cob picture. For Kwanzaa, each ear of corn represents a child in the family.
Kwanzaa is a time for family and friends to gather around the table and celebrate a rich heritage. Pass along a special tradition by involving young and old in crafting a custom unity cup.
7. Make a Kwanzaa Gift Pouch
The focus of Kwanzaa gifts, or zawadi, is on homemade gifts or cultural gifts purchased through black-owned businesses. Make this colorful Kwanzaa Gift Pouch to hold money, gift cards, or a tiny treasure for someone special as you celebrate Kwanzaa with family and friends– Free Kids Crafts
8. Make a Kwanzaa Necklace Craft
This Kwanzaa Necklace Craft uses paint, pasta, and a little imagination – it’s a fun Kwanzaa craft for little kids! via Activity Village
This simple, easy to use puzzle is great for centers or early finisher activities during a Kwanzaa. It includes the 7 Kwanzaa symbols plus the flag for 8 mini puzzles (matching picture to word) via Shared Teaching on TPT
10. Kwanzaa Coloring pages
Teach your child about all of the special items used when celebrating Kwanzaa — then have fun coloring them in together! This Coloring page can be downloaded from the Scholastic Site
This Kwanzaa Wreath Colouring Page and more coloring pages for kids with a Kwanzaa theme are available on the activityvillage.co.uk Page
Kwanza Books for Kids
Do you have to be black to celebrate Kwanzaa?
It is a holiday created for African-Americans. But just like people other than Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, other races and ethnic groups are welcome to participate in the Kwanzaa rituals
What are the Colors of Kwanzaa?
How do we wish someone who is celebrating Kwanzaa?
- The Traditional greeting is “Habari Gani?” (“What’s happening?”), to which they respond with the name of the first principle: “Umoja.” The ritual is repeated on each day of the Kwanzaa celebration, but the answer changes to reflect the principle associated with the day. For example, on the second day, the answer is, “Kujichagulia.”
- “Heri za Kwanzaa!” (Swahili for “Happy Kwanzaa!”)
- or simply say Happy Kwanzaa or Joyous Kwanzaa!