Polynesian Prints and Patterns

This weekend the Na Pua No'eau program, a non-profit organization that provides Hawaiian studies for  school age children, did a fun art project with the kids of Lana'i.  I signed my son up to participate and since I want to learn as much about the Hawaiian culture as possible, I volunteered to help!

The class focused on the definition of symbol, motif, and pattern, and how Polynesians used these in their art and designs.

We attached foam stickers onto tongue depressors for kids to use as stamps.

Here are native Polynesian stamps, carved out of wood:
We put the paint on the plates flipped upside down, to make it easier to stamp.

Kids stamped on crumpled paper bag paper, since real tapa (or kapa, depending on which part of the Pacific you are in) is super hard to make.

Here's a tutorial for making it from sacks:

Here is my finished wall hanging for my classroom!

Next, kids made a tapa paper bag cover for the folktale Maui: The Proud Kitemaker.  You can read the story here.
Kids glued their tapa cloth onto a piece of cardstock.

Then they glued the story inside the cover.

Here is my finished story.  I stamped some squares and leaves on it.

If you want to teach about art from around the world, I highly suggest teaching about Polynesian and Hawaiian art!  The wall hanging and book were fun, used materials you should already have lying around, and taught the kids some great art skills!

If you do decide to teach about Hawaiian art, head on over to my TpT store and snag my freebie Hawaiian Song Book:

What do you like to do for art time in your classroom?


  1. Thanks for reminding me of the paper bag tapa! :) I teach 1st grade at Enchanted Lake Elementary in Kailua, Oahu! Glad I found your blog. I haven't visited Lana'i, but I hear it's very small; it's not surprising you couldn't find candy corn. Anyway, I think I still have the Hawaiian counting book that I made when I was in first grade. The cover was made out of the fake tapa and we used stamps to make the border look more authentic. :) If creating the book was so memorable that I still remember it to this day, I should recreate the experience with my firsties if I can.

    Take care,

    1. That sounds like a wonderful idea! My friend Corinna who teaches on the North Shore has a free Hawaiian word book in her TpT store:http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-Can-Speak-In-Hawaiian. It would be so cute with a tapa cover! I might do that next week - thanks for the idea! :) I'm glad you found my blog, too. I love meeting other teachers in Hawaii! :)

  2. Wow! What amazing ideas, I love the posters and the song book, but the prints are really wonderful! As a Mom, I would keep it forever! :)
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