23 Jul Solidarity Bunting – Craftivism for Kids
Are you searching for fun ideas to keep kids occupied? – we have a craft project with a difference.
We think that parents and kids will really enjoy this fun and inexpensive diy bunting project, which also gets kids thinking about how they can be in solidarity with people to improve our world.
We ran this workshop for Also Festival as well as for House of Fairytales at Winterville using this solidaritiy craftivism bunting project and the children (6years and up) loved it! The parents really enjoyed it too and we were shocked when the tent at Also Festival went silent whilst 50 children were really focusing on their stitching and writing.
Why Choose the word Solidarity?
We chose the word ‘Solidarity’ as it’s quite a big, important word that not all young children will have come across before. As adults it’s often not a word we use much too.
Solidarity means – unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.
The word solidarity can be applied in terms of being in solidarity with their friends or peers at school, perhaps by supporting, respecting and standing alongside kids who are being bullied or picked on: For example we talk about if a child has his lunch taken from him each day by bullies, charity would be giving him/buying him a replacement lunch but that doesn’t stop the bully and doesn’t help relieve the pain and suffering of the child being bullied.
To be in solidarity means to stand alongside the friend and say to the bully that this needs to stop, tell the teacher to stop the bully and make sure there are rules and actions in place so it is more difficult for bullies to steal lunch (such as teachers and dinner staff to keep an eye out, posters saying bulling is not tolerated and children to keep an eye out for each other).
You can also discuss global solidarity as you stitch. How can we support vulnerable people around the world through individual and group actions and through the daily choices we make. Do our choices affect people who are thousands of miles away? How? It helps gently nudge us to empathise with vulnerable people and think about how we would want people to be in solidarity to help relieve us from poverty or injustice in a dignified way.
The activity spreads the message of solidarity and both you and your children will hopefully think a little more deeply about injustice as well as the daily choices you make as you create the bunting. You have time to discuss the issues as you stitch and also time to think quietly together. Empathy is an important skill for children, this project is a great way to unlock understanding not only of how to empathise, but also how to take action that can make a change to a situation.
Cut out small fabric triangles (use old scraps of fabric)
Solidarity is 10 letters, so kids need to pick 10 of their favourite triangle fabric bits.
Teach kids how to spell solidarity and ask them to write one letter on each triangle with a felt tip or marker pen in their neatest handwriting (this slows them down). (Older kids could be encouraged to stitch the letters, just follow the writing with a running stitch)
Choose a coloured ribbon which is long enough for all the words plus to be able to tie the ends onto something.
Using a needle and thread begin to stitch the letters to the ribbon, use a simple running stitch – it doesn’t need to look neat, just to not fall apart – you’ll be amazed how quickly kids get the hang of stitching, offer help only if you feel they are really struggling. You want them to feel a sense of achievement that they made it themselves. There is no rush so let the child know they can take their time and if they run out of time they can put the triangles in a little bag and start again when you both have some free time.
Once you have stitched on all the letters and chatted as you go about the meaning of solidarity you are finished. Now where should they hang it? Somewhere they can see it every day. Or perhaps they could give it to someone as a gift and explain what they have learned whilst making it. We had some children hang their bunting in their bedroom or on the fridge for the whole family to enjoy, some put them in their lockers at school or gave it to a teacher.
What to talk about?
Perhaps you could discuss fashion? Ask children if they know who made the clothes they are wearing – not many children will have ever considered that an actual human being made their t-shirts or trainers. Older children could be asked about the cost – some items of clothing cost just a few pounds, how is that possible – how long would it take to make something like that? Are we showing solidarity with clothes makers when we buy the clothes they made by providing them with jobs or are we harming them by supporting an industry where garment workers are not paid a fair wage and work in poor conditions. How could we find out together who makes the clothes and where?
Or maybe you could discuss where food that you buy in the supermarket comes from, did it come from very far away on a plane? Is it a good idea to buy food that travels thousands of miles – does this harm the world in any way? What are the alternatives – but what if you want to eat strawberries and tangerines at Christmas time? Talking about fair-trade bananas and the farmers that grow them is a great way to show solidarity because your money doesn’t just pay for the bananas but also helps the farmers have enough money to live comfortably, gives them a pension and strengthens the local community and their cooperative business.
Or maybe you could talk about energy and water usage? Who makes electricity? Does everyone have access to clean water like they do?
The idea is to open minds and get kids (and adults!) to ask questions, so try to answer honestly and if you don’t know the answers find them out together. You want the children to feel empowered that they CAN make a difference through THEIR actions – not to end the tutorial feeling ‘sorry for the poor people’ or overwhelmed by climate change.
Growing up in Everton we had people with great intentions who wanted to just give the children in our area shoes. I also saw the same happening in Ghana and Kenya when I worked there for Christian Aid and the UK Department for International Development.
Parent’s felt embarrassed taking the shoes, children where bullied in school for having second hand shoes and it did not ask the question why families couldn’t afford their own shoes. What was needed in Everton was structures to help people gain employment, better education and a living wage amongst other things. In Kenya healthcare and education needed to improve so that families could sustain themselves and international trade needed to be more fair.
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Lilla Watson, a Brisbane-based Aboriginal activist and organiser, spoke these words to the social workers and community developers who approached her community, she gave direction to those of us who would join with people living in poverty.
If we truly want the world to be more beautiful, kind and just, we need to change structures and behaviours at the core of harming people and the planet.
This is why activism and campaigning are so important for long term change. Charity is very much needed for emergency relief and quick responses but charity did not give women the vote in the UK, end apartheid in South Africa and it does not stop a bully from taking your lunch money as a child.
Learn more about our method of activism and see how you can get involved – find out more about Craftivism
If you have found this project helpful please do $upport us to exist so we can continue to support you & other craftivists. We are a small struggling social enterprise with no external funding x