20 DIY Native American Crafts for Kids

Native American cultures boast rich traditions of artistic expression. From intricate beadwork to symbolic pottery, each craft tells a story and reflects the deep connection these communities have with nature and their heritage.

Engaging kids in Native American crafts isn’t just about creating beautiful objects; it’s a journey of discovery. These crafts provide a springboard for learning about diverse tribes, their customs, and the significance behind the symbols and materials used.

This list offers 20 engaging Native American craft ideas, suitable for a variety of ages and skill levels.

With some adult supervision and a dash of creativity, you and your child can embark on a vibrant exploration of Native American culture.

Crafts for the Littlest Learners (Ages 2-5):

Feathered Headbands:

Cut colorful construction paper into feather shapes. Let your child decorate them with markers, crayons, or stickers. Glue or staple the feathers onto a headband (fabric or plastic) for a simple yet vibrant headpiece.

Nature Crowns:

Take a walk outdoors and collect leaves, twigs, and small flowers (be mindful of picking only what’s abundant). Back home, help your child weave these natural treasures into a beautiful crown, connecting them with string or yarn.

Turtle Shell Suncatchers:

Cut out a simple turtle shape from construction paper or brown paper bags. Cover the inside with clear contact paper. Let your child stick colorful tissue paper pieces or transparent cellophane onto the sticky surface, creating a beautiful suncatcher inspired by the turtle, a symbol of longevity in many Native American cultures.

Clay Pinch Pots:

Clay is a fantastic sensory material for young children. Provide small balls of air-dry clay and guide your child in gently pinching and shaping them into simple bowls or cups. Once dry, these can be painted with acrylic paints.

Corn Bead Necklace:

String large, colorful cereal loops onto yarn or string to create a playful necklace inspired by corn, a vital crop for many Native American tribes.

Crafts for Growing Crafters (Ages 6-8):


Dreamcatchers are popular crafts, but their significance goes beyond decoration. Traditionally, they were seen as talismans to protect sleepers from bad dreams. Use a hula hoop or embroidery hoop as the base. Wrap yarn around the hoop, creating a web. Decorate with feathers, beads, and colorful yarn.

Woven Wall Hangings:

Introduce the concept of weaving with simple materials. Cut cardboard into a rectangular shape and punch holes along the long sides. Use yarn or string to create a warp (the vertical threads). Children can then weave colorful yarn or strips of fabric horizontally, creating a beautiful wall hanging.

Paper Plate Kachina Masks:

Kachina dolls are colorful representations of spirits or natural elements in certain Pueblo cultures. Use paper plates as a base for the mask. Cut out eye shapes and decorate with construction paper, paint, feathers, and yarn, creating a unique Kachina mask.

Salt Dough Bison Sculptures:

Combine flour, salt, and water to create a moldable salt dough. Let your child sculpt a simple bison, an animal with great significance in many Plains tribes. Once baked and cooled, the sculpture can be painted.

Patterned Sand Art:

Take inspiration from the beautiful sand art traditions of some Southwestern tribes. On a shallow tray, create a thin layer of colored sand. Use stencils or cutouts of geometric shapes to create interesting patterns on the sand surface.

Crafts for Creative Explorers (Ages 9 and Up):

Friendship Bracelets:

Friendship bracelets are a wonderful introduction to beadwork, a vital art form in many Native American cultures. Use embroidery floss and simple braiding techniques to create beautiful bracelets for friends and family.

Wampum Belt Keychains:

Wampum belts were traditionally used for storytelling, record-keeping, and establishing treaties. Create miniature versions using plastic beads in white and purple (representing traditional wampum colors). String the beads onto keychains to create beautiful and symbolic keepsakes.

Paper Mache Rattles:

Rattles play a significant role in many Native American cultures, used in ceremonies and storytelling. Create a simple paper mache base (using balloons and newspaper strips) and decorate it with paint and colorful construction paper. Once dry, add dried beans or pebbles inside for a rattling sound.

Painted Leather Coasters:

Leather scraps can be transformed into beautiful coasters. Trace coaster shapes onto the leather and cut them out. Using acrylic paints, children can create designs inspired by Native American petroglyphs (rock art)

Clay Storyteller Figurines:

Storytelling is central to Native American cultures. Provide modeling clay and allow children to sculpt figures representing storytellers, animal spirits, or characters from their favorite Native American folktales. Once baked and cooled, the figurines can be painted with acrylics.

Corn husk Dolls:

Corn husk dolls are a beautiful and traditional craft. Soak dried corn husks in water to make them pliable. Braid the husks to create the doll’s body and tie them with yarn or natural fibers. Decorate with beads, fabric scraps, and feathers for a unique and meaningful keepsake.

Beaded Bookmarks:

Combine the beauty of beadwork with a practical purpose. Cut out bookmark shapes from felt or cardboard. Using a needle and thread, children can create intricate patterns with colorful beads, personalizing their bookmarks with a touch of Native American flair.

Miniature Tipi Decorations:

Tipis, or conical dwellings, are iconic symbols of Plains cultures. Use construction paper, fabric scraps, or cardboard to create miniature tipis. Decorate them with paint, markers, or collage materials, adding details like geometric patterns or symbols used by specific tribes.

Crafts with a Focus on Research (Ages 10 and Up):

Important Note: When engaging in crafts inspired by specific cultural objects like these, it’s important to encourage research and respect. Discuss the cultural significance of the object and avoid direct replicas.

Repurposed Totem Pole Pencil Holders:

Totem poles are elaborately carved wooden sculptures with symbolic meaning in Pacific Northwest cultures. Find a sturdy cardboard tube (like a paper towel roll) and cut it to a desired height. Research different totem pole symbols and have your child design and paint their own version, using it as a unique pencil holder.

Clay Pottery with Basket Weave Designs:

Pottery is an ancient art form with a rich history in many Native American cultures. While working with a pottery wheel might be for older teens or with adult guidance, air-dry clay offers a great alternative. Help your child create simple pots or bowls and then use toothpicks or craft sticks to imprint basket weave designs on the clay surface. Once dry, these can be painted with acrylics.

Additional Tips:

  • Learning Through Exploration: Before diving into the crafts, take some time to explore Native American cultures with your child. Read books featuring folktales or browse websites with age-appropriate information. This will spark their curiosity and allow them to connect the crafts to a broader cultural context.
  • Adapt for Different Needs: These crafts can be adapted to suit various skill levels and abilities. For younger children, simplify the steps and provide more assistance. For older children, encourage independent exploration and research.
  • Celebrate Diversity: Native American cultures are incredibly diverse. Avoid generalizations and focus on specific tribes or regions when possible. This helps to foster a deeper appreciation for the richness and variety within Native American traditions.

With a little creativity and a spirit of exploration, these Native American-inspired crafts can be a doorway to a world of learning and cultural appreciation. So grab your craft supplies, embark on this artistic journey with your child, and celebrate the beauty and traditions of Native American cultures.

Sohaib Hasan Shah

Sohaib's journey includes 10+ years of teaching and counseling experience at BCSS School in elementary and middle schools, coupled with a BBA (Hons) with a minor in Educational Psychology from Curtin University (Australia) . In his free time, he cherishes quality moments with his family, reveling in the joys and challenges of parenthood. His three daughters have not only enriched his personal life but also deepened his understanding of the importance of effective education and communication, spurring him to make a meaningful impact in the world of education.

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