Monday, December 28, 2020

Kente Cloth Paper Weaving


Kente Cloth originated in Ghana and has been an important part of West African culture for hundreds of years. Each color has meaning. Green for growth and harvest, gold for royalty and prosperity, purple for femininity and sweetness etc. The shapes are also symbolic: triangle represents birth, life, and death, a circle represents eternity, and the idea that there is no beginning or end to the royal lineage. 

For a simple paper weaving craft project, cut strips of construction paper. I cut one inch strips of 8"X11" paper horizontally, and vertically (except the vertical one stopped one inch from the top, so that it stayed connected. I also glued the top of the vertical cut paper to a plastic base, so that it could be shipped easily to my distance learning students without getting wrinkled.

Students lifted the odd number strips up, and glued a horizontal strip of paper to the even strips with glue stick. Then the strips that were up came down and the ones that were down came up before adding another horizontal strip. This is an easy way to discuss pattern in art and life. We repeat, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down. As we manipulate the vertical strips of paper (this is the "warp" of weaving), then we'd choose the pattern of the "weft" (horizontal strips): such as orange, yellow, red, orange, yellow, red....

Once the weaving is completed, pattern is discussed again as a student decides to place an "X" shape on all of the yellow squares, and diamonds on the green, for example. For students who had fine motor issues or no vision, I offered stencils, and traced what they drew in puffy paint for a tactile finish.

This project can be a part of a social studies unit on West Africa, or it can be an extension of a literature lesson. A Spider Weaver: The Legend of Kente Cloth by Margaret Musgrove is the picture book I shared with my class. Folklore is always a fun way to learn about culture. I brought in some masks and shirts from West Africa for students to try on. Whether you want to teach reading, geography, or art principles, this is a great project for kids.

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