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Level: Junior
Grades: 3-5 | Age: 8-11 | Written by: Written by: Amy Shapley
[Amy is a teacher]

Students will learn the history of Ghanaian Kente Cloths. Students will practice using geometric shapes to design their own Kente Cloth strips.

What You Need:
What You Do:
  1. Present lesson:
    • What: Kente Cloths, strips of fabric woven by hand in the colors that represent Africa.
    • Red - Life and Blood
      Blue - Innocence
      Green -Mother Africa, Mother Earth
      Black - People and Unity
      Gold - Strength and Fortune

      Strips are sewn together to make cloth. Always woven from cotton threads.

    • When: Celebrations: Weddings, Births, Graduations, Ceremonies to bring in new leaders; Whenever you want to respectfully show your African heritage.
    • Why: To symbolize African culture
    • Where: Most examples from Ghana, worn in Africa, America, and wherever people show African heritage.

  2. Discuss the difference between geometric and organic shapes and lines.

  3. Direct students to design geometric patterns of stripes, squares, diamonds, triangles, etc. on the paper strips.

  4. Pass out trays of paint, brushes, water cups, and paper towels. Remind students that the colors are very important in Kente cloth, so they should do their best to keep the colors clean and not muddied.

  5. When the strips are dry, it is sometimes very effective to use a black marker to outline the shapes and stripes. It gives the paper an embroidered look. This is your choice.

  6. I display these strips on a black paper covered bulletin board with posters informing the viewer of the history of Kente cloth. Students often make these types of posters or writings in Social Studies during Black History Month.

*Note: This project looks really cool using pieces of colored yarn and glue instead of paint! Just substitute tagboard for the white paper. The idea here is not to weave or sew the strips together but rather to display them individually.

Recommended Books/Products:

Kente Colors
by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate, John Ward
In brilliant poster colors, this picture book celebrates the kente cloth made by the Ashante people of Ghana and the Ewe of Ghana and Togo.

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