A Unity Wreath is a simple craft activity you can adapt for any age classroom, Sunday School, camp, or after-school care lesson. Use this easy activity to teach children about cultural differences and working together. You can adapt the instructions based on the age-group of the children.
Use the Unity Wreath as an activity to open up lessons during Black History Month, before Martin Luther King Day, or any time you want to add a cultural note to your classroom.
Most craft stores sell construction paper or card stock in a variety of flesh tones. Do not buy just peach and brown. Everyone has a unique shade of skin tone no matter what race they consider themselves to be, so give your kids as many options as possible. Buy several different shades of skin tone paper, or provide paint so your students can blend together a shade they feel best represents them.
Have each student trace their handprints, one for each hand, on their tone of paper.
Next, cut a large circle (the size will depend on how many students are participating, but a circle about 14 inches high works well) out of heavy paper or cardboard. Cut out the inside of the circle, leaving a three inch wreath of cardboard.
Begin layering your students’ handprints around the wreath with the fingers facing the outer edges. Alternate the different colors as you layer and glue them down.
Now, add a decoration in the center of the wreath. Let your students brainstorm symbols for unity or peace, like a dove, a rainbow, or an olive branch. Place one or more of these symbols inside the wreath. For example, to make a handprint dove, make a shape with your hand so the thumb points to the right and the four finger are held together off to the left. Trace this shape onto white construction paper. Draw a line to show the dove’s wing in the center and add eyes and a beak to the thumb.
Glue a paper clip, folded half open so the top makes a hook, to the back of the wreath on the cardboard rim. Use this to hang the Unity Wreath on your door or somewhere in your classroom.
Variations on this activity include:
Let children mix paint shades to match their skin tone and use the paint to make a handprint on white paper. Cut out around the handprint. This gives the Unity Wreath a little more personality and children will love picking out their handprints as they look at the wreath.
Let pre-school children choose from bright colors of paper or paint to make their handprints.
Point out to the class how many different shades of skin tones the class has contributed to the Unity Wreath. Comment on how much more interesting and beautiful the wreath is with so many different shades. Use the opportunity to start a class discussion about how much we can learn from the differences in others.