Do you enjoy teaching weaving in the art room? Have you found it’s too many needy hands and not enough of you to go around? Often this problem is because students do not have the introductory skill set to feel successful at the current task. Art should make children feel challenged, yes, but also powerful. We can help our students feel more successful at any art skill if we scaffold the task.
I love to teach fiber arts, but as years have gone by, I have found my students are coming to the table with less and less life experience in weaving. There was a time when students wove placemats at Thanksgiving and little paper baskets in the Spring, but those things seem to be getting left behind. So introducing weaving on a loom with yarn requires scaffolding. When I was discussing this with a colleague, she told me about how she was making “God’s Eyes” or Ojo de Dios with her students, which was really helping. A little side note here, if you thought God’s Eyes were just a silly summer camp craft, revisit that idea. They actually have roots in the Huichol People of Mexico. I found a succinct existing post on this over at http://www.auntannie.com/FridayFun/GodsEye/
And Cassie Stephens has a wonderful post from 2015 with beautiful imagery and lesson extensions on the Ojo de Dios, right here: https://cassiestephens.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-weaving-series-gods-eye-ojo-de-dios.html I definitely recommend you check it out!
One of the things my colleague and I talked about was how we could introduce the concept of weaving in scaffolded steps. Whether that took the form of multiple projects in a year or say, doing a first grade, then second grade, then third grade project with it. I saw an image on pinterest that sparked an idea. Snakes in the grass!
I’ve been working on fleshing out this project since then. I am creating it as a first grade art project, maybe Kinders if you had the right group. In fact, I’ve tried a few versions of the project before coming to this one. Maybe you’ll have an even better twist on it! What’s nice is that you could easily change the materials to simple construction paper and crayons or markers without loosing the objective of the lesson.
Start with painted paper for the grass. I used 12"x12" paper
At another time or in a different area, have students cut out three to four long snakes. My tip is to give each student a strip of paper for their snakes, instead of a full 12x18 sheet.
Next, little strips of paper are cut up to create shapes for placing on the snake bodies. Hello scissor skill review! You can demo how to cut diagonally for triangles, vertically for rectangles and even horizontally for skinny strips. And what great vocabulary opportunities!
I love to use a glue sponge for gluing little pieces like this instead of a glue stick.
On weaving day, you’re going to cut the grass to make the loom. Bring out the lawnmowers, kids! My suggestion for instruction on this is always to demo first, and begin with one in the center. Then have kids draw three lines on each side of the middle. Cut on all the lines. Someone WILL cut all the way to the end. It is first grade after all and we love them. Just put a strip of masking tape along the bottom to connect them back together.
The snakes come out now and get ready to weave. The concept of a snake slithering through the grass lends a concrete element to the over-under-over pattern that we must get into the heads of our students. The kids really have fun with their little snakes as they peek through the blades. I suggest students weave the snake in at the very top of the grass and then slide it down towards the bottom one by one. Lastly, the snakes will be glued or stapled into place at the head and the tail.
I came across a little storybook, Small Green Snake, by Libba Moore Gray featuring the green snake and beautiful torn paper style illustrations. It seemed a perfect match with the project and young children just love animal books. There’s also a pattern element to this book that the kids will enjoy the predictability of. You can get it used on Amazon at this link or look for it at the local library, where I found my copy!
At the end of my posts, I often like to write a few lines about how I might modify the project for my students with special needs. Always consider that every child is different and you need to follow their IEP plan and take into account their abilities. That being said, here are some ideas for modifying this project.
- Make the snakes larger, thicker
- Reduce the number of snakes. Only three, for example.
- Thicker grass blades and a reduced number.
- Adjust the objective for applying the cut shapes to the snake.
- provide step by step visual directions! This really helps differentiate instruction for many students.