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 <I>Kwanzaa</I> comes from a Swahili word meaning "the first fruits of the harvest." Learn how black families celebrate their African heritage during Kwanzaa. Then create this multicultural mat showing <I>umoja</I> or unity among people. <I>Umoja</I> is one of the seven Kwanzaa principles. What are the other six?

  • 2.

    Cover your art area with recycled newspaper. Using Crayola® Washable Kid's Paint and Crayola Paint Brushes, paint one sheet of paper red, one black, and one green. Air dry flat.

  • 3.

    Fold the black paper in half lengthwise. With Crayola Scissors, cut strips about the width of your thumb across the paper, cutting from the fold to near the edge of the paper. Do not cut all the way through. This is your base for weaving the mat.

  • 4.

    Cut strips of red and green paper about as wide as your thumb. 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.

  • 5.

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

  • 6.

    When you take your mat home, explain the significance of the colors and the hands to your family.


  • Students discover the history, traditions, symbols, and activities that are part of modern Kwanzaa festivities, which celebrate the African heritage of people around the world.
  • Students identify the seven important principles that underlie Kwanzaa and recognize their origins in Swahili.
  • Students weave a Kwanzaa mat and explain the significance of their project.


  • Find other Kwanzaa symbols to make. Create a bulletin board showing how black Americans celebrate this modern holiday.
  • Research traditional dress in specific African countries. Draw men and women wearing historically authentic clothing and fabric designs.
  • Create art to represent each of the seven Kwanzaa principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Find out the name of each principle in Swahili.