Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kente Cloth-inspired Pattern Practice

AB, AAB, ABC, ABB … if you’ve ever worked with a child on patterns you, no doubt, recognize these. Frankly, I think some of the traditional pattern-practice activities are a bore [yawn]. I wanted a fun way to keep my son engaged as we worked on creating and recognizing patterns. When I stumbled across a picture of Kente cloth (fabric woven by the peoples of Ghana, Africa), a light bulb went off.

To start our activity, I Googled Kente cloth and clicked on “images.” I showed my son all of the different pictures and told him we were going to replicate the look of Kente cloth with an art project. He was game.

Earlier in the week, I had my husband cut two rectangular blocks of wood the same size from a 2x4. (If you replicate this activity, don’t feel like you need to use wood. Anything that is hard, shaped like a rectangle, and could get paint on it would work.) I cut lots of cardstock rectangles from five colors of cardstock in the same shape as our blocks of wood.

Then, I had my son wrap the two blocks of wood in yarn. I tied the two ends together on the back of the blocks, he applied acrylic paint with a sponge brush, and stamped the yarn prints on two different colors of cardstock. My son was blown away at how cool these homemade stamps were. (Okay, who am I kidding? I was too!) I got the idea here.

When he had stamped eight blocks of each, we moved on and began making our patterned blocks in the following configurations:

Each strip of our Kente cloth would have blocks with one of these patterns. I cut the cardstock rectangles into horizontal or vertical strips and my son glued them on. When he’d created two or three blocks with the pattern we were making, we glued our blocks onto a big piece of paper in an AB pattern, alternating with the stamped blocks.

This took a long time and a lot of thinking. My son, who isn’t normally the patient type, stuck with it until all four strips were done and glued onto our plain paper. He was captivated by how the patterns all came together!

When it was done, I had him explain the meaning, symbolism, or significance of his Kente cloth design by completing a custom-made handwriting sheet I created. I had to smile at his explanation: the cloth he made commemorates losing his second tooth!

Download a PDF of this handwriting paper here.


  1. Incredible! Thanks so much for sharing at Math Monday!
    Cindy @ love2learn2day

  2. Love this project - it turned out beautifully!

  3. Hi,
    We have explored patterns using just symbols on paper. Your idea of using the yarn and wooden blocks to stamp the patterns is one cool idea.

  4. What a neat idea! I bet your son really enjoyed this. My little one is still too young for patterning, but I am definitely filing this away for future use!
    My older kids might enjoy just making one, as they look so neat!

  5. Wow! It turned out wonderful and love how you have been inspired Kente Cloth! Lovely.

    Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  6. I love this idea, we've been learning about Africa and we can always use more pattern activities,I can't wait to try it. :)

  7. waaay cool, wonderful activity! You are my new go-to blog for teaching my kiddos about art! LOVE It! Thanks for linkinkg up to TGIF! Have a GREAT thanksgiving & I will see you next week,
    Beth =-)

  8. ok, add me to the list of being blown away...way too cool!!!

    Thanks for sharing on Hey Mom, Look What I Did at Adventures In Mommy Land...hope to see you again soon!!

  9. wow, amazing project, and so impressed with your son's willingness to participate in your projects which require patience! thanks so much for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday

  10. This is yet another amazing post! Thanks (as always) for linking up to The Sunday SHowcase!