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DIY Ndebele Houses

Posted by Happy Active Kids on

We recently had family visit us from South Africa so my boys have been looking through books about South Africa and asking lots of questions about the country.  An image of the bold and vibrant Ndebele house paintings piqued Big boy’s curiosity and he wanted to learn more about it.

DIY Ndebele Houses - Happy Active Kids Australia

The Ndebeles are an African ethnic group living in South Africa and Zimbabwe known for their artistic talent, especially with regard to their painted houses and colourful beadwork.  The house paintings are characterised by large black geometric shapes and painted in with bright colours. Early Ndebele house paintings were an expression of cultural resistance after being forced into oppressive lives by the Dutch settlers.  Interestingly, it is the women of the Ndebeles that are the brains behind the wall art of their home and the tradition and style of house painting is passed down from generation to generation by the mothers!

DIY Ndebele Houses - Happy Active Kids Australia

Our exploration of Ndebele house paintings provided a wonderful opportunity to learn about world cultures for the boys and myself!  Learning about world cultures fosters understanding of global diversity and stimulates the minds of both children and adults. Big boy was very inspired to paint some geometric shapes and make our version of Ndebele houses.

DIY Ndebele Houses - Happy Active Kids Australia

Depending on age, children can draw their own geometric designs.  The early Ndebele house patterns were mainly V shapes and triangular while contemporary designs feature squares and rectangles too.  My boys are too young to draw symmetrical geometric shapes so I drew the shapes for them and they coloured the designs in. It was a brilliant lesson in 2D shapes and what the word “symmetry” meant.  It’s also a great way to talk to little ones about recycling and reusing everyday household items.

Hope your little ones enjoy this glimpse into another part of the world!


  • White paper
  • Toilet rolls
  • Kraft paper (optional)
  • Brown yarn


  • Use a thick black marker to draw geometric shapes onto white paper and colour in.  Don’t forget to draw a door and window.
  • Cover the toilet rolls with the painted designs with glue.
  • To make the roof, cut out a circle from Kraft paper to make a cone shape and glue the cone to the top of the toilet roll.
  • Cut bits of brown yarn and glue to roof to resemble a thatch roof.

DIY Ndebele Houses - Happy Active Kids Australia

* This post and all associated images have been supplied by the lovely Rossa from Curious Little People.  Follow her on Instagram for more creative inspirations!

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