The Kids’ Multicultural Art Book: Art and Craft Experiences from Around the World, is a 157-page, hardcover book that is divided into geographic units. Units cover Native Americans of North America, Hispanics: Mexico and Central America, Africans, Asians: India, and The Far East and the Southeast. Each unit is further divided into from three to five sections with a few activities under each section. For instance, the first unit is divided into sections for five different Native American groups: Plains, Eskimo, Northwest Coast, Southwest, and Northeast and Woodlands.
The book has step-by-step instructions with patterns for 49 projects. While some of the projects will require more than one session to complete, many of the activities can be done in one session.
For example, the Lakota-Sioux Charm Bag, made from felt, can be either stitched or glued together, then decorated with beads and suited with a yarn “handle” in one session. On the other hand, the Folk Art Tree of Life is constructed from a paper bowl, paper towel tube, and aluminum foil, then that base is covered with papier mache. After the papier mache dries, other decorations are added, and it is painted. Obviously, this will take two or more sessions to complete.
Activities in the book are suggested for children in grades three through nine. However, some are definitely for younger children, and some will be much more successful with older children. Many activities seem like ones that you might do at a summer camp or a VBS—activities that are more complex than simple arts and crafts yet can be done in one session.
Activities can be used along with geography and cultural studies. Each unit has a few introductory pages that explain a little of the history and culture for the general area. A more specific explanation at the beginning of each activity tells how the authentic art forms were (and are) used. The lessons take a secular perspective with no commentary about any art that reflects various religious beliefs.
Patterns appear on the pages right along with instructions. You will need to photocopy and cut these out for children to use. Resources used are a combination of easy to find items and recycled collectibles. In addition to basic supplies like a stapler and glue, you will need resources such as poster board, tempera paints, acrylic gloss varnish, white paper plates, tongue depressors or Popsicle sticks, paper cups, toilet tissue and paper towel tubes, egg cartons, Styrofoam peanuts, aluminum foil, yarn, and string. As you can see the cost for the materials should be very low.
Instructions are fairly easy to follow, although some of the projects might be a bit difficult to complete successfully—glue and tape might not be sufficient to hold some projects together as planned. Some children will need adult assistance to complete the trickier parts of some projects.
Many of the projects are unique, and children are likely to be surprised and pleased with the results they get from working with such simple materials. While projects can certainly be done within just your own family, these should be ideal for gathering at least a few families or a group class together so that children can inspire and encourage one another.