In addition to making simple gifts for Kwanzaa, you and your child can make some of the items that are used in celebrating the holiday.
Straw Mat (Mkeka)
To make the straw mat that will hold the ceremonial objects, start with a 16-by-36 inch piece of cardboard. Mark off lines every quarter inch along the two shorter sides, then cut small slits at each mark. Slide the end of a piece of yarn into the first notch and knot it so it doesn't slip. Bring the yarn across the top of the cardboard and place it in the first slit on the opposite side. Then bring the yarn under the cardboard to the original side and place it in the next notch. Continue bringing the yarn over and under the cardboard until the entire board has been threaded. Cut the end of the yarn and tie a knot to hold it in place.
Cut thin ribbons and strips of colourful materials into 18-inch-long pieces. Thread a large needle with a piece of material, then have your child help pull the needle under one strand of yarn and over the next one until it reaches the end of the card. Continue weaving all of the materials into the mat, alternating the strands each piece goes over and under. You can then slide the woven mat off of the cardboard and iron on a large piece of felt backing. To be safe, sew the mat to the backing.
Buy red or green paper with matching envelopes from a card store and African-inspired fabric from your local sewing shop. Help your child glue pieces of the fabric along the top and bottom of the paper and to the backs of the envelopes.
African tribes of the Congo River are famous for their beautifully decorated ceremonial masks. Your child can make his own from household items.
Cut the spout off a one-gallon plastic water jug. Cut the jug in half lengthwise, and throw out the part with the handle. Cut out eyeholes and a nosehole in the other half. Help your child paint the face and decorate around the eyes, then paint on other African symbols or designs on the forehead and cheeks. Finally, glue on feathers, beads, shells, and pieces of foil. When everything has dried, glue a large paper clip to the back of the mask so it can be hung on the wall.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.