Crafts for Native American Heritage Month are difficult because you don’t want to do Indian headdresses or other things that could dishonor indigenous people. Look for meaningful Native crafts and learn the history behind the indigenous arts and crafts before making them. We’ve included easy Native American crafts for kindergarten and up to help them learn about different Native Tribes and cultures.
Kids’ Crafts for Native American Heritage Month
Culturally sensitive Native American crafts for Native American Heritage Month art projects and activities for kids:
- Weave baskets
- Learn about storytelling symbols
- Do a beadwork craft
- Cook some traditional Native American dishes
- Learn about stone carvings and symbols
- Make a hand drum and learn about the history of Native American music of the Native American people
- Create a totem story
- Try wood carving
How do you honor the Native American month?
To honor Native American month with kids:
- Use primary resources by indigenous peoples, like songs, poems, stories, books, and storytelling videos
- Create culturally sensitive arts and crafts that honor indigenous peoples
- Be intentional in learning about the tribal affiliation / different tribes with kids
- Discuss the importance of Elders and Women in Native cultures
- Teach the truth about the history of native land and indigenous history
- Learn about and support native artists
- Read children’s books by native authors
- Make indigenous recipes and learn the history behind them
- Learn about the importance of native storytelling and oral histories
- Read books about modern day contemporary Native Americans / contemporary Native American life and diverse communities of Indigenous cultures that still exist today (not just the historical Native stories and people)
- Search out videos online of indigenous people telling stories passed down from ancestors and honor oral traditions
- Visit Native speakers and events in your community (search: Native American Heritage Month events near me)
- Learn about indigenous food and make Native American recipes
- Incorporate Native American lessons and respectful Native American crafts all year, not just for Native American Heritage Month crafts or Thanksgiving lessons!
See the full list of Crafts for Native American Heritage Month and kids activities below. KEEP SCROLLING for great Native American Heritage Month ideas for classroom, homeschooling, or children’s activity ideas at home!
What Native American crafts kids shouldn’t make?
Culturally insensitive Native American crafts include:
- Paper feather headdresses, because they are culturally significant and often require permission from the tribal leaders to wear one (please don’t do these as part of your Native American Thanksgiving crafts!)
- Jingle Dress, sometimes called a prayer dress, which is often part of a ceremony that brings healing and honors the power of women
- Any crafts that trivialize native dress (like paper bag dresses)
- Arts and crafts that minimize the importance of Native American ceremonies
- “Eskimo” crafts
- Pilgrim and Indian costumes
& so many more!
Please understand the significance of an indigenous item before adding it to your crafts, lessons, or Native American art projects.
Also Native American crafts for kids tipi (“teepee”) are often seen as walking a fine line of cultural appropriation. So, be aware of that.
Study authentic Native American crafts and honor the work, culture, and traditions before making a craft!
Need lessons and Native American Heritage Month facts that go beyond Native American arts and crafts and other ways to celebrate and honor Indigenous peoples?
Check out: Native American Heritage Month Lesson Plans for Kids: Studying Native North America history and Native American communities (we learned so much with that totem poles craft!)
On to the Indigenous craft ideas!
Native American Heritage Month Crafts and Activities
An important thing to remember when doing Native American/ Indian crafts and Native American activities with children is to:
- Learn about the tribe(s) the specific craft represents
- Study the historical significance of the item: how it was used, what purpose(s) it served, etc.
- Learn about authentic methods used to make the craft or Native art
- Use authentic materials, when possible (if you can’t use authentic materials, discuss why)
Here are great Native American Heritage Month activities kindergarten and up!
There are enough ideas here to make your own Native American craft kits for learning all month or for your history class and diversity studies throughout the year or if you want to create a educational activities like a unit study for Native American week activities / social studies month of November activities .
(They’re also awesome Native American crafts for adults, too!)
How do you honor Native American Heritage Month?
#1: Create a Story Using Native Symbols
Storytelling is an important part of Native cultures, both oral stories passed down through generations and in other ways, like through the use of symbols or totems.
Some great Native American culture activities involve learning about indigenous stories! First, find some videos of indigenous storytellers, listen to the stories, and learn about the importance of storytelling in indigenous cultures.
Then, grab this Native American Symbol chart and recreate the story the kids listened to using only the native symbols and what kids have learned from the native storytellers.
Kids will also have fun creating a totem pole to tell the story. (My daughter really loved that project for her Native American studies!)
FOR STORIES, CHECK OUT THE NATIVE AMERICAN STORYTELLING FESTIVAL
READ: Iroquois Folk Tales: Native American Short Stories
#2: Make a Hand Drum
Drumming is an important part of Native culture and is often considered a sacred instrument. So, spend time learning about how it is used in the culture before making a drum craft.
Learn about Native American musical instruments
Learn about contemporary Native American music
Learn about drum beats in Native American music
Although you may be able to use authentic materials in your your handdrum, you can watch a video that shows how to make one using authentic materials before you make your drum craft.
#3: Have Fun with Native American Weaving
You may most closely associate beautiful rugs and weaving with Navajo weaving, but be sure to start with Native American weaving history as well as adding Navajo weaving patterns to your learning before your weaving craft!
Try these weaving Indigenous crafts for kids:
Get a historical weaving timeline
Learn about Navajo weaving (and also here)
Watch a video on Navajo weaving
Learn about symbols and motifs in Navajo weaving (lots of pictures!)
START WITH A BEGINNER LOOM AND CREATE YOUR OWN WEAVING PROJECT
#4: Create Bead Art
Native American beadwork is probably an art form that you’ve seen in pictures or in-person on belts, clothing, bags and purses, and more and may be what you think about when someone brings up Indian art projects.
Beading is a fun project to add to your Indigenous Peoples learning and culturally sensitive Native American art lessons.
Read about the history of Native Beadwork (includes a video of the history of beads in Indigenous cultures and is great for Indigenous craft activities)
READ: Beadwork Techniques of the Native Americans book
GRAB A BEAD LOOM AND TRY YOUR HAND AT BEADING
#5: Try Basket Weaving
Basket weaving was used by different Native American tribes for a variety of reasons like carrying water, gathering food, cooking, and more!
See examples of different types of basket weaving from different tribes (pictures)
Watch a video on the Art of Basket Weaving
Since authentic basket weaving can be difficult and time-consuming, you can buy these easy basket weaving kits for kids or you can get a more advanced beginner’s basket weaving set to try it the more authentic way.
Take a virtual field trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (and also look into the National Archives and National Park service to see if there is a wonderful opportunity to visit a native community or for additional information on first Americans and indigenous communities.
Let us know if you have favorite Native American craft for kids and we’ll add them to our list!
ALSO CHECK OUT: Hispanic Heritage Month Lessons and Fun Autumn Sensory Activity for Preschool and Free Fall Printable
If you haven’t heard what Native American Heritage month is about…
What is Native American Heritage Month for kids?
National Native American Heritage Month is to honor not only the history of Native Americans (which also includes Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians), but also modern day Native culture for kids to learn all about and honor. You may also hear the month referred to as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.
Don’t forget to add great kids’ books to your ideas to celebrate Native American Heritage Month and Native American heritage art projects!
Must-Read Children’s Books by Native American Authors
Use Native American Childrens books to add to your kids activities, projects, Native American art activities, and crafts for Native American Heritage Month to pay tribute to the rich culture and Native traditions:
Jingle Dancer (we really enjoyed learning about this amazing Native dance during our activities for Native American Heritage Month and even while studying Native women for Women’s History Month!)
Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids
Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Ša, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist
Native American Leaders From Then Until Today
My Heart Fills With Happiness
See more Native American stories for kids for more ways to honor Native American Heritage Month.
(If you have favorite children’s books for National American Indian Heritage Month, let us know! We’ll add them our list!)
Have fun with homemade Native American crafts, but be sure to honor and respect the culture when doing these easy Indigenous crafts or any First Nations crafts!