Countdown to First Night Sanity Saver: Kwanzaa Unity Cup (Kikombe cha Umoja)

Presented by Independent Health

BY Will Kawalec, Play to Learn Facilitator

Download a PDF version of this lesson here!

This lesson gives your child the opportunity to create a Kwanzaa Unity Cup, an item that is instrumental in celebrating the holiday!


2 Paper or plastic cup (paper preferred)

Toilet paper tube

Black marker or paint

Glue or hot glue

Red, black, and green paint or markers

Masking Tape

Miscellaneous decorations (stickers, jewels, string, beads, etc…) 

Optional: construction paper 


Set up: 2 Minutes

Activity 10-25 Minutes 

Academic Subject(s): 

Art, Social Studies

SS 3.4a, 3.4b, 3.5a, 2.6, 2.8, 1.8

VA: CR 1.2. 1,2,3a 

VA: PR 5. 1,2,3a

This lesson supports First to Third Grade: 

This lesson supports areas of Elementary Education.

While celebrating this year’s holidays from home, there is a great opportunity to see how other cultures and other nations celebrate the holidays.  With this lesson your child will be able to experience new traditions and cultures.  In this case specifically relating to Kwanzaa.  A unity cup’s primary purpose is to celebrate one’s African ancestors.


Step 1: Paint or color the cups and the toilet paper tube completely black.  OR wrap cups in construction paper to avoid paint! Either method works!!

Step 2: Take time to decorate your Unity cup especially with the colors red and green.  These colors represent the struggles, celebrations, and pride of the African people and people of African descent.  

Step 3: Cut one of the cups about an inch from its base making a smaller cup (when flipped over this will be the base of your Unity Cup.

Step 4: Connect the toilet paper tube to the base of the cup with hot glue or tape, and then connect the other end of the tube to the painted and decorated cup.

Step 5: At this point you’re almost finished, now add any finishing touches to your cup.

Step 6: Your cup is now completed; you now have experienced creating an item that is a vital part of any Kwanzaa tradition. 

Step 7: With your new knowledge inform and connect with new people about different holiday traditions.

Vocabulary Words

Kwanzaa:  A holiday that acts more like a celebration for African American culture, and focuses on celebrating African culture and histories, as well as promoting Black pride.

Unity: to be joined or brought together as a whole.

Ancestor(s): a person related to, you who lived long ago.

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