Friday, March 5, 2010

Fun with Children & Fiber Projects!

It seems I just posted but more than a week has passed. WOW!

Each week brings me new surprises and learning potential. I make notes in my teaching journal for future reference and hope that I will find opportunities to continue teaching children fiber arts once I leave the island next fall.
This week the 5-7 yr old group continued to work on their needlepoint on plastic canvas. They are doing a great job considering this skill is a tough one for their little hands and minds to grasp. Not only are they using motor skills to maneuver the needle in and out of holes, they have to choose the right one to give them the proper pattern! Most know when they have erred and call me to the rescue but unless they have a knot or have made an egregious error that will give them gaps in their work, I allow the stitches to remain. Age doesn't necessarily dictate their progress. One of my youngest students is a diligent and focused child. As a result, she has completed more of her project than any other in class. I have no doubt that this project would be done by now if they could keep their attention on their work instead of what happened at school..... BUT, they are still little children after all :-)
I will give this project a rest for next week. I do not want them to become discouraged or bored with their progress. Another time I would use a smaller piece to learn this technique. They are always anxious to finish a piece so that they can take it home and show it off to their parents. I fear that this is one that they will not complete.

The five year olds had fun this week creating Yarn Bugs! I called them Love Bugs since we used little heart shapes for their mouths. This project gave them motor skill practice as they wrapped yarn around a block of wood to create the huge pompom that would become their bug! I asked them to count 100 wraps; no easy task for five year olds! I gave them a scrap of paper and pencil and asked them to wrap ten and make a mark, and do that ten times. Several accomplished that task, though not without error, Still, it was a good lesson in concentration, something they all need help with at this age. Although they are all five, I can pick out the youngest of the group by their attention and class behaviour. Keeping on task with a job has to be about something fun. To encourage wrapping from this child, he was reeling in a fish from way out at sea on the line of yarn. It worked!
After their pompoms were made with help from them to tie the center knot, the poms were placed over a styrofoam ball and glued in place. I had to help get get pipe cleaner legs into the foam. I hadn't anticipated this to be a problem but finding your way to the foam through the yarn was a bit challenging and once hte pipe cleaner ends have been bent, they will never pierce the foam. They then chose pom eyes and a heart for the mouth which we glued on with hot glue.
They were quite pleased with their projects when they left the classroom!

Onto the bigger kids....
This group is finishing up their woven stash bags woven on a cardboard loom. While they were working on those, I had a wonderful Montissouri teacher helping with the class as I  began working on our next project. We are making a felt vest from commercial cloth which they are going to do crewel embroidery designs on. I have asked them to use simple symbols inspired from native american work. Wednesday I took two children at a time and taught them how to take proper measurements. We are not using a pattern since we are creating a very simple design using a rectangle of cloth that will have a slit for the front and a slit for the neck (in a T shape). The sides will be stitched up with yarn as in shoe lacing style and they will embelish the back of the vest with stitchery. While most of the class was weaving, I worked with two at a time so that by the time class was over, each had calculated the necessary dimension of their cloth, marked it and cut it out. We spent the last 15 minutes of class working on design. The most difficult part of that process is to have them understand what it means to have a simple design. I have found this time, as in the past, that they tend to get carried away with details in their drawings. I will have to help them edit to be sure they have not created a design that they will never be able to accomplish in our class time. I have suggested that they work out their basic design to begin with and adding steps of detail in small increments; stages if you will, that they can work on with good stopping points. This way as time allows, they can add a stage of development. My concern and what I am trying to avoid is a project that they can never possibly finish in our class time and their attention spans. It is important that they not bite off more than they can chew. It is important to me as well as them that they be successful and be able to wear this out of the last class of the term!

Until next time..................

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