Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In the Art Room: Tree Weaving with Third Grade

Every year I do a weaving project with my students, kindergarten to fourth grade. And when asked at the end of the year what their fave art project in the universe is, weaving always ties first place with clay. 
And who can blame them? Digging ones hands deep into clay or entangled in a bundle of yarn is just about the best feeling ever, says the art teacher. However, I've grown a little tired of the usual weaving project my third grade students create. So when I saw these amazing tree weavings on pinterest, I was inspired to have my students create one of their own.

Stunning, right? And if you know Russian (at least that's what I think it is) then you'll totally understand the directions. I'd click the "translate" button but I guess you gotta know the Russian word for that to make it happen. All kidding aside, the website does an excellent job of demonstrating the process. For headache-free purposes, I decided to forgo the bent twig option and have the students craft their loom from a Chinet plate.
This weaving lesson was also apart of our study of the United Kingdom. We studied many landscape photographs and paintings of the countryside of such places as Northern Ireland and Scotland. Our first day was spent painting a sky on our plate. If you recall, these kids have plenty of experience with sky painting as they are the ones who created these German Gnome Landscapes. The following art class, we chatted about how to create a fore-, middle- and background in our landscapes.
 Students were encouraged to mix three different values of green to create a sense of depth. From there, they were given the option to enhance their landscape with what they'd imagine a countryside in the United Kingdom to look like. As you can see, we were feeling mighty sheepish.
Once our landscapes were complete, we were ready to begin the process of creating and warping our loom.
 By placing a Tree Weaving Template over their plate, students could draw the correct number of notches on the top (10) and the bottom (2). These notches were cut to the inner edge of the plate.
With notches cut, the students met me on the floor with their plates and about a yard and 1/2 of pre-cut yarn. Our first step was to wedge the yarn into the bottom left hand notch as seen above.
With the long end of the yarn, we put the yarn into the far left top notch, out the notch beside it, into the bottom left, out the bottom right and back up to the top. This process was repeated until all top notches were filled in. We ended by going in the bottom left notch, coming out the right. At this point, we were ready to create our tree trunk.
Which is super easy. With the end of the yarn, begin wrapping it around the yarn at the bottom, tugging gently as you go. If you run out of yarn, simply double knot a new piece to the old. Once your trunk is tall enough, tie it off to a tree branch.
Some bare trees ready for weaving.
To begin, we double knot tied our chosen color to one of the tree branches on the end. From there, we began the process of weaving over and under. One thing the students struggled with was weaving loose enough. You see, they wanted to pull tightly which caused the weaving to slide down the branches and pull the warping threads inward. However, once they got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing.
 When we first began this lesson, we chatted about wool and where it came from. I passed around some natural wool roving, some cream colored some brown. We chatted about how different colors of wool come from different color sheep. I guess that inspired the sheep in this landscape.
New colors were added with a double knot tie. Weavings were ended with a double knot tie off as well.
So that we could hang these for our upcoming art show, students tied a piece of yarn to the backside of the plates.
And that's it. Honestly, the warping/weaving portion took no time at all. And I foresee so many variations of this project in the future: a woven peacock, a turkey...okay, that's all I've come up with. But I'm sure to think of some more (your input would be greatly appreciated and promptly stolen as an idea of my own!). 

I do hope my explanations helped and that you're encouraged to try this lesson with your students. If you're still not gettin' it, just translate it into Russian and it'll all become crystal clear. And if you'd like some more weaving projects, you can check here. Chat with you soon!

70 comments:

  1. Absolutely beautiful! I have a new weaving project for next year!

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    1. Yay! I think you'll love it, I know the kids will :)

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    2. Did these with my 5th graders on 6inch plate. We did the opposite, wove from trunk to top. Some wove multiple threads at once, some braided yarn and wove it. We looked at Sky Tree by Thomas Locker. Students illustrated seasons in the background and had to mix paint to show depth. Then the color in the branches had to match the season illustrated. I even managed to teach stitchery as some wanted apples, flowers ,etc in the tree. Great project! We made symmetrical stands for them for the art show.

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    3. That sounds awesome!! We'll have to follow your lead with the book and those stands, great idea!

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    4. What are symmetrical stands?

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  2. These are fantastic! What an awesome idea!!! :)

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  3. This has got to be the most original weaving project I have seen! Pinning, pinning, pinning!! I hadn't seen the Pinterest inspiration. The more I look, the more ideas I can think of for what to do with these. In the fall, use red beads for apples (we have lots of apple trees around here) or maybe a cherry blossom theme, or even underwater with the trees being coral formations instead.... Can't wait to give this a try!

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  4. I love this! This is the freshest weaving idea I have seen in a long while. So glad I put off the annual fourth grade weaving project until I read your post!

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  5. Isn't weaving the best!? For my Art Club kids, it comes in second to paper mache- and I'm sure that's just because we don't get to play with clay. (We're just finishing up our CD weavings this week and they look awesome!)

    I'll pin your beautiful trees-maybe for next year!

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  6. Hi Cassie! Love this project. This would be absolutely GREAT in our December issue, which focuses on fibers and textures. All that appears to be missing are a materials list, learning objectives, National Art Standards and high-res photos -- and you have a perfect project for the magazine! Email me and let me know if you are interested in submitting it for publication. (My fingers are crossed.) Thanks!

    maryellen@artsandactivities.com

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  7. Im trying this next week with a Texas Hill country theme! Thank you!!

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  8. Due to begin weaving tomorrow, think ill set the straws aside this year and take out some paper plates. Great project!

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  9. My students in Kalgoorlie Western Australia have to painted their landscapes and can't wait to start their weaving. Thanks for the great idea.

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    1. Oh, how exciting! Please keep me posted and let me know if you have any questions!

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  10. This is interesting! I enjoyed reading your great post.Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have shared here. Femme A La Fleur

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  11. I am going to start this project with my kiddos tomorrow (the weaving portion anyway, we already made the landscapes.) Anyway, just a thought- I think I will have them weave from the trunk up and I hope this will remedy the pulling too tight and squishing the "leaves" down problem. Love all your ideas- I'm not sure when you sleep, but thanks for all the inspiration Cassie!

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    1. Yay!! Please keep me posted, I would LOVE to know how that turns out. AND I'd love to see photos :) Thank you for your kind words and have fun!

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  12. Anonymous9/14/2013

    Thank you so much for this wonderful idea!

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  13. Anonymous9/16/2013

    What kind of paint did you use for the background scenes? not tempera...looks like it is acrylic. I love this idea...and I teach grade 3!

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    1. Hi! I used washable tempra by Crayola...it's my fave. And these were done with 3rd grade, I think your kids would love creating them!

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  14. Great activity! We actually did this with my Y Princess tribe...the girls loved it, and the dads did as well (since it was super easy). THANK YOU!

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    1. Yay! How fun is that! Glad you give it a go :)

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  15. This is great, hope to try it with my grade 3 this year! Thanks for sharing, as always!

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  16. Love these cheerful and unique weavings! Thanks for sharing and providing clear directions.

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  17. Anonymous3/23/2014

    These are GREAT! I have my spring weaving project. This is so different from the God's Eyes, card board rectangles, and dream catchers I've done over the years. I can't wait. Thank you for sharing ;-)

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  18. Oh my I love these! I will definitely be trying with my art class. I've just found your blog and love it, thanks for sharing!

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  19. you could weave umbrellas...

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  20. These are fabulous, thanks so much for sharing! Definitely doing these with my third graders this year!

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  21. Anonymous8/13/2014

    Just a quick question Did you do these with the large chinet plates or the smaller ones? What a great idea. Thank you, Thank you.

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  22. Thank you!!! This is great help!

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  23. Found this in the storage room.
    Hand made loom.
    IMG_0609 copy.jpg

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  24. That's really something extraordinary. It’s like thinking out of the box and producing this kind of excellent stuff in front of everybody. Really very impressive.

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  25. It is amazing and wonderful to visit your site. I've learn many things from your site.
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  26. Jen Conrow9/03/2015

    I can't wait to try this with my 2nd graders this year!!! I love to do weaving, and this is really a super original idea. Love it!!! Thank you

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  27. I love this project. I've done it the past 2 years since I saw your post and it has been a rock star project. It's always so fun to see how the weaving clicks with the students and they really get into it.

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  28. What an amazing project! We're going to use this for our kids' 3rd grade class. What kind of paint did you use? how long did it take to dry? I'm just wondering if we'll need to do this project in two classes. Thanks for your help!

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  29. I just did some basic weaving with 7,8 and 9 year olds .This would be a super follow on lesson .

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  30. Awesome! Could also be a parachute!

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  31. Hi Cassie…few logistical questions for you. After your first couple of days of getting the painting portion done, how did you split up your time on these with the actual cutting, then weaving? How many classes/chunks of time did these take to complete? How did your students handle the knotting - I can foresee that being a whole lesson in itself? I completely love this project and want to do it with my 4th graders, but am a first-year teacher and am finding it difficult to guesstimate lesson planning time here. Any further tips for breakdown? Thanks!

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  32. Can't wait to try this!

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  33. They are amazingly creative crafts for walls. I would try this with my daughter as she is always interested in these kind of activities.
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  35. Your work is beautiful. How long did it take you to learn this weaving technique? It looks super easy and creative. I am going to mention this to my sister. She teaches school and this would be a nice project for the children to learn.

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  37. that is the cutest thing iv'e seen. I will be doing this project in our homeschool lession
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  40. Cassie, I LOVE your blog and ideas! You are brilliant! I came across the weaving because I was looking for a little weaving project for my 4th graders to tie in with my Viking unit. I also have the same question someone else asked: did you use the regular or larger dinner chinet plates?

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Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate each and every one :)