Grab-N-Go: Crafts around the world series

Enjoy learning how to make simple crafts from six of the seven continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and South America.

4-H origami clover
4-H origami clover. Photo by Janis Brinn, MSU Extension.

A cultural learning opportunity for youth has been created and piloted throughout Michigan with Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Grab-N-Go Crafts Around the World series. The grab-n-go documents were originally designed for hands-on learning experiences delivered through “Crafts Around the World” sessions during the Michigan 4-H Winterfest. During the COVID-19 pandemic and need for virtual programming ideas, these learning documents on how to make simple crafts from six of the seven continents—Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and South America—became very popular.

The purpose is to introduce youth to some simple cultural traditional crafts from around the world. You can journey around the continents, learning how to make simple crafts and having fun creating through Crafts Around the World. Each activity is written up in a lesson plan format for adult or teen leaders to facilitate.

4-H leader making a craft
4-H leader piloting an activity at the 2020 4-H Winterfest. Photo by Janis Brinn, MSU Extension.

The lesson plans include objectives and education standards for each activity. The objectives are for youth K-12 to learn the cultural history and origins of the craft, inspire global exploration, develop fine motor skills and increase cultural awareness and creativity. The education standards are for youth to understand the visual arts in relation to history and culture, and at times depending on the activity, apply geometric methods to solve design problems.

As a project within Michigan 4-H, experiential learning is also highlighted. Those teaching the craft can help participants reflect on their experiences by encouraging thought and discussion with these questions: What happened? What’s important? So what? And now what?

At the Kettunen Center in Tustin, Michigan, the 2020 Michigan 4-H Winterfest participants got to pilot and try out seven of the activities. Suggestions and comments were added to the pilot activities for improvement, which included an instructional video. The How to Make an Origami 4-H Clover instructional video was created with closed captioning and a link to the video was added to the sheet. If you would like to test out your origami skills even more, check out the MSU Extension news article, “Why I make Japanese origami cranes,” which also has an instructional video included.

Youth making a craft
Youth participant piloting an activity at the 2020 4-H Winterfest. Photo by Janis Brinn, MSU Extension.

During the pandemic, the Crafts Around the World series were virtually piloted successfully. From lessons learned and more research conducted, the documents and videos are being consistently updated and edited on the 4-H Global and Cultural webpage.

If you would like to pilot one of the new 2021 Crafts Around the World activities, please reach out to the MSU Extension children and youth institute leadership, civic and cultural engagement team at or me, Janis Brinn, at The current activities are:

Soap carving.
MSU Extension staff demonstrating a virtually soap carving during a Crafts Around the World series. Photo by Janis Brinn, MSU Extension.

More activities for this series continue to be created for hands-on global and cultural learning with lots of fun in a variety of settings.

Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program help to prepare youth as positive and engaged leaders and global citizens by providing educational experiences and resources for youth interested in developing knowledge and skills in these areas.

For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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