Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ndebele Dolls

In honor of my presentation at the Florida Art Education Association's Annual Conference, I'm giving you the lesson I will be presenting there! I have taught this lesson for the last 3 years at FAEA, co-teaching twice with my friend Lynsey, and this year I will be doing it by myself. It is a wonderful lesson, focusing on recyclable projects annnnnd the African art form of doll-making withing the Ndebele (en-duh-belly) tribe.

I have written and received grants for this project, and have presented it to our local teacher's group, the Sarasota Art Education Association. It's deeply meaningful, personal, and creative. Ndebele dolls are made to mark a turning point in a tribe member's life: wedding, courtship, becoming a "man", etc. Kids and adults LOVE making these dolls (and I love teaching it!). It's a doozie of a project, so here goes:

I start out by showing examples of some Ndebele dolls and my Ndebelle Powerpoint. *If you would like a copy of this PP, it is available on Teachers Pay Teachers!

I also purchased two Ndebele dolls from Crizmac so the kids could look, feel and touch an "original". The beadwork on the dolls is uh-maze-ing!
For my kids I start out about a month beforehad collecting empty Danimals yogurt smoothie cups. This is the perfect size for the body. For my "grown-up" lesson, I use empty water bottles.

You will need a lot of random things for this project:
For the head-
5x5" black fabric squares
rubber band
For the body-
clean, empty water bottle (I also put a little sand in each one to make it more stable)
For the decor-
popsicle sticks, beads, buttons, scrap fabric, yarn, yarn sharps, ribbon, twine, stringed beads, pearls, etc.

Fabric glue and HOT GLUE (yes, I have 5th graders using hot glue!)

The only "uniform" thing about each one is the head. To make the head, take a handful of Poly-Fil and stuff it into the black square. Tightly put the "head" onto the neck of the water bottle and use the rubber band to secure it. Trim off the excess fabric.

Here are some student examples:
To make my students' work more meaningful to them, I had them list 5 accomplishments they were proud of making in their life. This was the pre-cursor to the lesson. They then had to choose one of their "turning points" or accomplishments into their artwork. This particular student was proud of winning a gold medal at a swim meet. So you see the gold medal around her neck and the colors of the swim team (black and gold).
This student just made the all-star cheerleading squad. I love how she wrapped the shirt to show off her midriff. Very 2010!
This student is an equestrian and takes care of horses. It is hard to see, but she used raffia to make a bundle of hay and in the other "hand" she holds and apple (a bead).
For this doll, the student was proud of his ninth consecutive straight-A report card!

These are some examples from my SAEA workshop last October. They were done by area Art Teachers (so this lesson is adaptable to high school!) To make the frizzy hair, just thin out the yarn by untwisting it and pulling it apart! You can glue the hair on or you can use a needle and loop each strand through the head.
You can make "arms" by winding yarn around popsicle sticks and hot gluing them in the desired position. To make the hands, take a tad of Poly-Fil and stuff it into a scrap of black fabric. affix that to the end of the popsicle stick.
More cute examples from my workshop!
This one I am in LOVE with! The participant told me it was her deceased Aunt. She took a few hours and knitted/wove/crocheted this shawl, wound up the yarn balls and dressed her. It was stunning in person!
I really love going to my state conference. I leave energized and renewed with lesson ideas and am able to share my ideas with others. I am so excited to see what this weekend's workshop and the other studio classes I will attend hold! I will post ideas and pictures online sometime this weekend.
This is my little beauty I am taking to the Conference. She's unfinished...I'll post pictures of her tomorrow...totally done and looking gorgeous!

Happy Creating!


  1. Just love these dolls- I cant wait to have a go at these ones!!
    Please have a look at my blog!!

  2. The dolls are beautiful. What a great project to try with the African Art unit. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I love this project; I love the intercultural connections that you help the students to make. I definitely adding it to my lesson list (AND I'll be sure to link back to you!)

  4. I am teaching an after-school African art class and was wanting to make Ndebele Dolls with the kids. Water bottles will be perfect! Thanks for the lovely tutorial and pics. Your post will definitely help me out. I bet the kids will love it!

  5. Love these--I would love the power point!

  6. Great lesson! I would LOVE the power point, as well!

  7. would love the power point for this!

  8. If you can send the power point to me too it would be so appreciated! I am having difficult engaging the kids with this.


  9. I love these dolls and thank you for showing me how you and your students made them!!!! I would love to have a copy of the powerpoint if you don't mind sharing!!!! Thanks again!

  10. These dolls are a gorgeous idea and will be perfect for my African art unit with my key stage 3 class. I would love to check out your PowerPoint if you don't mind? Thank you!


  11. These are absolutely FAB!! I LOVE IT and I can't wait to try it.. THANKS so much for sharing.. LOVE your blog and officially your newest follower.. I'm Marilyn from ;)) Off to indulge in more of your fun crafts..Please do stop by sometime & visit.. Happy Friday ;))

  12. I learned something new. I loved the dolls! the use of beads, feathers and all kids of texture make it so unique and adorable!

    I am having a giveaway on my blog. $38 store credit + free shipping from busy little hands to select any cute backpack for kids from her store. Check it out!

  13. I was wondering if I could get a copy of your Ndebelle Powerpoint. I will be starting this project next week with me 3rd Grade class. We are all very excited.

  14. Hi Meredith, YES! I will get that to you. Can you let me know your email? THANKS!!!

  15. please please share the ppt with me!!
    have been a follower for quite some time
    many thanks

  16. Is your powerpoint still available? I'd love to use it in a few weeks during my Africa unit. I'll be teaching 20 first and second graders how to make the Ndebele dolls and your tutorial looks great! Kim

  17. I, too, would love to have the powerpoint, if still available. My email is Thanks so much!!

  18. Could I have a copy of the powerpoint if it's still available?


  19. can you send me your power point? I am at: Love this lesson!

  20. I just found your wonderful blog through Pinterest sharing and would love your powerpoint on this great Ndebele doll lesson.

    1. Hi Darcy- I will email you from school tomorrow! My aunt teaches in Madison, as well. :) not sure what school---her name is Linda Armas.

  21. Hi! Thank you for this awesome idea! I teach Literacy through Art at a group home and would LOVE the powerpoint...Can't wait to do this!

    My email is

    Thank you again!

  22. I'd love a copy of the powerpoint for this great lesson too!
    thanks, Linda

  23. I just stumbled onto your website and am in LOVE!!! Such great projects and clear directions! Thank you for sharing your projects with us!

    Could I please have a copy of your powerpoint presentation for your Ndebele dolls? My email is

    Thanks so much!

  24. I'd love a copy of your powerpoint presentation!

  25. I would love a copy of your powerpoint! Great doll images and lesson! Thanks for sharing it!

    Thank you!

  26. Love these!!! I would love to have a copy of your PowerPoint! Many thanks! Maria

  27. Is it at all possible to send me a copy of your PowerPoint today, March 4th, 2013? I am excited to begin this lesson tomorrow! :) If not, I understand. Maria

  28. Hi Joanna - I will teach a summer camp about native art in mid July and would love to have your PP. Thank you! Dulce

  29. These are awesome!! Thank you for your generosity in sharing. I would love a copy of your powerpoint! Thank you :)

  30. These look amazing. I would love a copy of your PowerPoint!
    Thank you

  31. Hello...I love these dolls! My special ed class is working on an African American music project, and I would like to have them make these dolls for part of our display. I would be interested in the PPT if available, to show them as an introduction. Thanks!

  32. I would love a copy of the thanks!

  33. Hello! I am an Elementary Education major currently in an Art for the Classroom Teacher class. I am doing my art lesson on Ndebele dolls and would love a copy of your PowerPoint! My email is Thanks so much!

  34. Hello! In conjunction with our current exhibit, "Tying the Knot: Global Wedding Costume and Ritual," The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts will be offering a Family Fun workshop at the end of April to make the Ndebele dolls. If possible, I I would love to get a copy of your Power Point. My email is Thank you!

  35. Fantastic! I would love a copy of your Powerpoint. I am a daycare educator in an elementary school and we focus on African inspired art every year as part of a school fundraiser for Suitcases for Africa. The daycare kids produce the artwork to decorate the gym for the event. My e-mail is Thanks so much!

  36. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually recognize what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also discuss with my website.
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  37. Could I please have a copy of your pp? it´s an amazing lesson!
    my e-mail is

  38. These are wonderful! I would love your Power Point! Thanks so much Laura

  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. Thank you for this beautiful project. I would love to have the PPT. My e-m address:

    Thank you!!

  41. We are planning on making these for our homeschool history co op. I would love a copy of your powerpoint. Thank you so much, it's a lovely project.

  42. These are fab and they look such fun to make. Please could you send me your PPT

  43. يفضل الكثير من الناس عند التفكير في بناء منازلهم واختيار أفضل الديكورات بها أن يتم تصميم أحدث الديكورات العصرية التي تلفت الانتباه من روعتها، ومن أفضل أدوات الديكورات الحديثة هي الأحجار الهاشمية، التي انتشرت في الآونة الأخيرة في كثير من المنازل والشركات والفنادق وغيرها من الأماكن الراقية، لذلك سوف نتعرف في مقالة اليوم ما تقدمه شركتنا من تحفة فنية رائعة مكونة من الحجر الهاشمي. واجهات حجر فرعوني

    أنواع الحجر الهاشمي
    ● النوع الأول وهو الحجر الهاشمي الكريمي يعتبر ذلك النوع من الأحجار الهاشمية التي تتواجد في منطقة العين السخنة على جبال المقطم.
    ● النوع الثاني من الأحجار الهاشمية والذي يقع في السويس في منطقة تسمى الجهاز ويسمى ذلك الحجر بالحجر الأصفر
    ● النوع الثالث والأخير من الأحجار الهاشمية وهو الحجر الأحمر حيث يتم استخراج هذا الحجر من محافظة أسوان لأنه يتم استخدامه في الديكورات التي تم نحتها مؤخراً.
    مقاسات وأبعاد الحجر الهاشمي
    تقدم شركتنا جميع المقاسات المختلفة والتي تناسب جميع عملائنا الكرام وبأسعار رائعة وممتازة للغاية. واجهات منازل حجر هاشمي

    ● هناك العديد من القياسات والأبعاد التي توفرها شركتنا في الحجر الهاشمي ولكن أشهر القياسات وأكثرهم انتشارا هو مقياس 25سم * 50 سم * 3 سم.
    استخدامات وأهمية الحجر الهاشمي
    ● للحجر الهاشمي استخدامات متعددة وكثيرة ولكنه يستخدم عادة كنوع من أنواع الزينة في المنزل.
    ● يمكن أيضًا استخدام الحجر الهاشمي في أعمال الديكورات والتصميمات حيث يعطى ألوانا لامعة ومتميزة.
    يتم استخدام الحجر الهاشمي أيضًا في واجهات المباني الرئيسية وغالبا في أعلى البوابات وعلى جانبيها حجر فرعوني