Woven Kwanzaa Mkeka Mat DIY



This fun, hands-on paper placemat crafting activity is a great way for kids and adults to celebrate Kwanzaa together. Weaving mats out of paper is a mess-free craft that results in a decoration that looks put-together and interesting. Create mats to use while learning about and observing Kwanzaa.


The Mkeka Mat is one of the seven symbols of Kwanzaa. Use the time it takes to weave your mats as an opportunity to discuss the other six symbols and their significance.

  • Precut strips in the following lengths:
    • Green: 4 strips, 20 inches x 1¼ inches (trim off the scalloped edge)
    • Black: 5 strips, 20 inches x 1¼ inches 
    • Red: 13 strips, 12½ inches x 1¼ inches (trim off the scalloped edge)
  • Lay all of the red strips side-by-side and gently tape them together on one side. These will run vertically on your mat. Leave the opposite side loose. 
  • Next, weave the black and green strips (alternate colors) over and under the red strips going in the opposite (horizontal) direction. Start at the taped edge and work your way to the open edge. Gently scoot the strips together as you work so your mat is tightly weaved together. 
  • When you are nearly finished weaving, tape the strips together on the back side.
  • Cover the outside edges with additional pieces of black borders to frame your mat. Tape them in place along the outside edges and trim any excess around the outside of the mat.
  • Add friendship “fringe” around your mat using hands traced and cut out from construction paper. Layer the hands and tape them firmly in place. If you'd like extra-dimensional fringe, tape small wedges of paper or cardboard between the hands to vary the thickness.

Gather other Kwanzaa symbols and use your mat for the base to rest them on. Take home to share with family and friends to learn about and celebrate Kwanzaa!

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