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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Straw Weaving has taken hold!!!    
Third grade weavers from Mrs. Colfer's class loving it!
 

If you have a Y.E.S. third or 4th grader, you may have noticed that he or she has been traveling around with a baggie, straws and bunches of yarn.  This is because we have officially started our ' hand-work unit' and kids are loving it.  If  you are ever wondering how your child might be challenged in art class, straw weaving is a great example of how art can engage many levels of learning, from simple, or not so simple, following of a multistep sequence of instructions, to being able to tie a few different knots, to having a spatial orientation on how to keep the correct direction as one weaves, how to create a pattern, how to notice a mistake and correct it so there will be no holes, and how to engineer the making and deconstructing of the loom. Plus throughout the process of weaving decisions are being made on color choices, how long, how short, how tight, how loose, do you want the weaving to be. 

As I write this update I am reflecting on what a  satisfying  week it has been for me.  My ultimate goal as an art teacher is to introduce kids to ways of seeing and making, and to empower them to want to do it on their own; to build intrinsic confidence and desire. Well straw weaving has taken, especially the 4th grade like wildfire. 
Straw weaving is basically a technique of creating a portable narrow loom, using two to 5 straws to keep the warp threads taught. 
In introducing it here at Y.E.S., once kids got it, they were amazed at how engaging and how much fun it was, how satisfying it is to do hand work, and how relaxing it is. One boy who was particularly reluctant to give it a try, was quoted as saying, " This is actually fun.", and chose to participate in a ' pop up' weaving studio we had in the 4th grade wing, during a recent indoor recess. 


I chose to teach this handwork unit before the holidays in hopes that children are inspired to continue weaving at home, in the car, in a plane, wherever you go during vacation, and also in hopes that a child will feel empowered to make some as hand woven gifts. They make great pet collars, bracelets, thin scarves if woven with 4 or 5 straws. I have extra yarns available in the Art Studio that your child can come in and take from.  

I believe hand-work and craftsmanship associated with it are an important part of a strong visual arts program, so hope you can extend this lesson at home. Straws and yarn is all that is needed. I am sure your child can show you how, but if not, I enclosed a straw weaving instructions with every kit that goes home with a child.  Try your hand at it if you get a chance.
I just did a Youtube search and found a nice site https://youtu.be/5YRhf8TW1FI   if you want to get a handle on it, especially with 4 straws.  The versions I saw on Youtube were slightly different than how I taught it but very helpful and perhaps you and your child would want to try the other versions.  If you weave with wool you could actually make them larger and then boil them down to be felted bracelets, something I have yet to try.  Third graders are only learning the 2 straw technique to this would be a way to extend the lesson at home and feel confident on how to do it. 
For the month of December I will have plenty of yarn on hand in the Art Studio but if you have any yarn that is not too thin, that  you want to donate to the Art Studio feel free to send it in with your child. Too thin and its difficult to weave on a straw, same with too thick, so a 'medium' weight would  be appreciated. 
This weekend I went to   Ruth's Recyclables of Portland, an amazing resource of recycled items, that Yarmouth Schools are a member of. Any teacher can get items for classroom use for free at Ruth's if their school is a member. I was able to pick  up 40 skeins of ' fun fur' yarn that is fuzzy, fun and makes for a fabulous texture in ones weaving. I am looking forward to integrating that into the 4th graders weavings this week, and 3rd graders next week. 
Straw weaving in action!

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