Make A Black History Bunting To Learn As You Create

Feb 7, 2022

When I read David Robertson's piece about the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I was reminded of what is important for observing days like it: a willingness to learn. 

In the piece he wrote about how it's essential to check in on our own knowledge — to assess whether we have enough to be educators on weighty subjects that kids will no doubt have questions about. 

He says we may not be scholars, and that's OK. But it's important to learn that now, because understanding our limitations sets us up in a place to start doing the work required to be the guides our kids will require.

It is in this spirit that I created a Black History Month bunting. While it is certainly fun to make, it is also an excellent way to learn alongside your kids.

And since Black history is a vast topic, your bunting may look different from mine. Your kids may wish to look up different people and places and events to motivate their design.

The great thing about this kid-led project is that it gives families the opportunity to learn about things they may not know, based on a child's interests. For example, if they're interested in hockey, it might be a good opportunity to look at the stories of Willie O'Ree and Angela James

What You'll Need

  • colourful paper
  • scissors
  • tape
  • glue
  • markers
  • ruler
  • string
  • extra craft supplies like: yarn, tissue paper, craft sticks (this will vary depending on which icons you choose)

How It's Made

Start by choosing a few colours to create your bunting.

Then, make a triangular template that you can use to trace and cut a bunch of uniform triangles at once. I drew half a triangle on a piece of folded white paper. Keeping the fold, cut the triangle out — now you have your template. 

Once you have your cut-out triangles in your chosen colours, run a length of string over the back side of your triangles. 

Fold a flap on each triangle downward, capturing the string inside and use tape or glue to hold down the flap. You can trim the small bits of overhang at the top of your triangles if you don’t like the way they look. To make mine precise, I marked the excess off with a white line so I knew where to cut.

Now that you have your bunting's flags, it's time to make the icons. 

We included icons and images that represent important moments and accomplishments in Black history.

As I said, no two buntings will likely look alike, since every family's discussions and research will be different. The important thing is to let your creativity flourish, and to have an open mind and heart.

Below are six ideas and how-tos you can use to help get you inspired (or started).

Paper Heart

Historical Significance: Dr. Daniel Hale Williams became the first doctor to successfully complete open-heart surgery on a human in 1893.

Draw one half of a heart on a folded piece of paper, much like I did with the triangle template earlier. Cut and unfold to reveal a symmetrical shape. Next, tear strips of tissue paper in red, blue and purple and paste them to the heart using glue and a paintbrush.

Tiny Newspaper

Historical Significance: Mary Ann Shadd Cary became the first woman publisher in Canada and the first Black woman publisher in North America in 1853 with the launch of The Provincial Freeman, an anti-slavery newspaper.

Create the newspaper by cutting a rectangle from a sheet of paper. You can start with a beige colour or tea-dip your paper to give it a historical look. Then use black marker to give your paper a headline, and use a ruler to draw lines and boxes to give the paper its text and images. Design the front and back of the paper then fold in half. I trimmed the ends in a scalloped fashion to give it a textured look. 

Protest Sign

Historical Significance: At just nine years old, Audrey Faye Hendricks became the youngest marcher of the Civil Rights Movement when she joined the Birmingham Children’s March in 1963.

Create a sign using cut paper and use a wooden craft stick for the post. Create a message on your sign using marker or cut and paste letters cut out of paper. Next, create a hand to hold the sign using paper. Fold and glue the hand around the craft stick for a three-dimensional effect.

Space Rocket

Historical Significance: Astronaut Mae C. Jemison became the first Black woman to travel into space in 1992.

Draw half of a rocket on a folded piece of paper. Cut and unfold to reveal a symmetrical shape.

Use this as your template to cut a rocket from colourful paper and choose a second colour to make a circular window. Add strips of orange, red and yellow tissue secured with a bit of glue to create the fire from the rocket’s thruster.

Movie Ticket

Historical Significance: Canadian civil rights activist Viola Desmond took a stand against segregation at New Glasgow, Nova Scotia's Roseland Theatre in 1946.

Use a rectangle of colourful paper. Trace around the curve of a coin or cap on each of the rectangle’s corners. Cut away the corners to create a recognizable ticket shape. Use markers to add wording and a border on the ticket. I added some small scalloped details to two sides to add texture. 

Stitched Baseball

Historical Significance: Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s colour barrier, becoming the league’s first Black player in 1947. Previous to joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, baseball had been a segregated sport for more than 50 years.

Trace and cut a circle from white paper. Then add the stitching on the baseball using red marker or by gluing strips of red yarn.

While Black History Month may be in February, learning about this important history can go beyond the month and take place through the year. 

Add a new paper craft icon to each triangle of your bunting as you go!

Article Author Mara Shaughnessy
Mara Shaughnessy

Mara is a children’s book author and illustrator who’s big into scissors and glue, making cake from the box, wrestling with her dogs and doodling with felt tip pens. You can check out her latest work at The Little Monster or craft along with her at Craft University.

Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.