Story Cloth

Traditional fabric designs made by craftspeople in the Republic of Benin tell stories about kings from the past, represented by totem animals and symbols. Until the early 20th Century, this country was called Dahomey. The older Kingdom of Benin was located in southern Nigeria, to the west of the present day Republic of Benin.

Story Cloth

Skill Level


Time to Make

1.5 hours

Adult Supervision Needed


How to Make

  1. Choose a colour from the felt classpack for a background. Cut off a strip (aprox 7cm) from the sheet to make a 23cm x 23cm square.
  2. Draw a simple outline for an animal (or another shape) onto the backing paper of a self adhesive felt sheet. Choose a colour to contrast with the background and remember when the felt is cut out the shape will face the opposite way. Cut out the shape then stick it in the middle of the background.
  3. Cut out some smaller self-adhesive felt pieces for details. Keep the shapes simple and bold. Stick the pieces onto the background. If you use colours from the classpack (without a sticky backing), use glue or double-sided tape to fix them on the background.
  4. Cut out eyes from felt or use wiggle eyes. You could add a colourful border around the edge.
  5. The finished squares can be displayed together on a classroom wall. Fix the pieces onto a large corkboard with drawing pins use double-sided tape to attach the felt onto mounting card.
Story Cloth Story Cloth Story Cloth

Top Tip

Find out more about the different animal symbols used on fabric designs from this region of Africa. Try making your own version of a story cloth with symbols or characters to represent everyone in your class. Cut out felt shapes showing different hobbies and interests or to represent friends and families or where you live.

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