Make Your Own Rainbow People Like the Artisans of South Africa

By Linda Meyers

July 21, 2012

Once a week we will be featuring a fun and/or educational activity you can try at home or in the classroom. This week's activity is a craft project straight from South Africa, in honor of the birthday of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first democratic president.

DSC_0339When I think of South Africa vibrant, colorful images come to mind, so when I saw this activity I really wanted to share it here. According to the blog, this craft can be found at corners and stoplights where vendors sell their wares. We can replicate this leather craft using cardboard from old boxes.


  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Crayons, markers or paint
  • Variety of fabric scraps
  • Split pins
  • Beads
  • Safety pins
  • Hammer and nail (or sharp object to poke holes in cardboard for split pins)

DSC_0217Draw a template like the one pictured in the shapes you would like to build your people or animals. Cut the template out and trace the shapes onto the cardboard. Then cut out the cardboard shapes. Color or paint them as you like, and lay them out to dry. Use a hammer and nail (or other sharp object) to poke holes to insert the split pins to hold the pieces together. Dress them with fabric scraps, pinning them on with beady safety pins.

There you have your rainbow people based on this popular South African craft.

See The Crafty Crow blog for more photos and details about South Africa and this craft.

For more activities, check out Heifer’s lesson plans and classroom activities in the Classroom Resources section of our website. You may also want to read about our projects in South Africa on the Heifer blog.