Umoja Mat

Umoja Mat lesson plan

Weave a decorative placemat to demonstrate the Kwanzaa principle of "umoja," or unity, among people. Celebrate this modern holiday by reaching out to others.

  • 1.

    The name Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili word meaning "the first fruits of the harvest." Invite students working in small groups to learn how black families celebrate their African heritage during Kwanzaa. Then students create a multicultural mat showing umoja, or unity, among people. Umoja is one of the seven Kwanzaa principles. What are the other six? Organize a variety of text and electronic resources for students to view during this research.

  • 2.

    When research is complete, students groups organize research into presentations for classmates.

  • 3.

    Once all groups have presented, ask students to cover their work areas with recycled newspaper. Distribute Crayola® Washable Kid's Paint and 3 sheets of paper to each child. Students paint one sheet of paper red, one black, and one green. Air dry flat.

  • 4.

    Students fold the black paper in half lengthwise. With Crayola Scissors, have them cut strips about the width of their thumbs across the paper, cutting from the fold to near the edge of the paper. Remind students not cut all the way through. This is the base for weaving the mat.

  • 5.

    Students cut strips of red and green paper about as wide as their thumbs. Weave them through the black paper, alternating green and red. Glue the ends of the strips under the black paper with a Crayola Glue Stick.

  • 6.

    On another piece of white paper, students use Crayola Colored Pencils to trace hands several times. Cut out the hands. Color each with a different shade of Crayola Multicultural Markers. Glue the hands to the Umoja Mat's edges. Air dry flat.

  • 7.

    Have students take their mats home and explain the significance of the colors and the hands to family members. Encourage them to compare and contrast Kwanzaa with holiday celebrations that their families observe.

Standards

  • LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • MATH: Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system.
  • SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.
  • SS: Give examples and describe the importance of cultural unity and diversity within and across groups.
  • SS: Give examples of and explain group and institutional influences such as religious beliefs, laws, and peer pressure, on people, events, and elements of culture.
  • SS: Explore ways that language, art, music, belief systems, and other cultural elements may facilitate global understanding or lead to misunderstanding.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.
  • VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.
  • VA: Analyze, describe, and demonstrate how factors of time and place influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art.

Adaptations

  • Possible classroom resources include: Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis; Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney; The Children's Book of Kwanzaa: A Guide to Celebrating the Holiday by Dolores Johnson
  • Encourage students to investigate other symbols of Kwanzaa. Create each of these symbols and display them on a classroom bulletin board, accompanied by a summary paragraph of the significance of the symbol to the holiday celebration.
  • Investigate traditional dress in specific African countries. Sketchman and women wearing historically authentic clothing and fabric designs.
  • Working in small groups, students investigate each of the seven Kwanzaa principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Students groups illustrate each principle using Crayola Colored Pencils. Research the pronunciation of each principle in the Swahili language. If possible, Use Internet resources to learn the pronunciations of each principle in Swahili.