Making Woven Coconut Leaf Shrimp

Teaching kids to improve their motor skills was the impetus for this fun craft. We have a tutorial to help you make woven coconut leaf shrimp. They are fun to make, play with, and perhaps even to use as outdoor decor.
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This is a really fun craft and so easy to make. I teach a class twice a week for handicapped children. The projects I teach the children are to help with their motor skills and using their hands. This week we were working with coconut leaves and teaching the children to make different items from the leaves.

When I first arrived in Tahiti I was living on the island of Moorea with a Tahitian family. Valentine was a dancer and she had to make her own costumes. I learned how to make the traditional costumes from her. One day she decided to make shrimp from coconut leaves to use for her costume. We sat there for hours making these tiny shrimp that she later sewed to a belt for her costume.

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 shrimp

Supplies:

  • knife
  • coconut leaves
  • scissors - optional

Steps:

  1. Start by removing the individual leaves from the large coconut leaf. This can easily be done by just pulling down on the leaf.
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  3. Fold the leaf in half and insert your knife just under the stem of the leaf and slide the knife down to the end of the stem. This will leave the stem in the middle and separate the leaf.
  4. Hold the leaf with one hand. The leaf should form a V shape when you are holding it.
  5. Start on the right and push the leaf off to the right to form a loop, now take the end of the leaf and go over the stem in the front, around the back, and then through the loop.
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  7. Pull the leaf through the loop and adjust the leaf. You should now see the top of the leaf instead of the back of the leaf.
  8. You will do the same with the left side of the leaf. Form your loop, pass the leaf in front of the stem, around the back, and then through the loop. Adjust the loop.
  9. You just need to alternate the side from right to left to make the shrimp.
  10. Work your way up the stem until your leaf is very thin at the top. Now tie this off. You can tie it in a bow or even a knot. This forms the feelers for the shrimp when done.
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  12. Allow the shrimp to dry out and turn brown. You can add a coat of clear varnish to the finished shrimp. These can last for years and they are fun to use around your home as decorations.
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