It was with excitement and anticipation that our First Grade students began clay modeling in the Handwork Studio. The students gave their eyes and mouths a break while they used their hands to form a lovely sphere with the clay. What a wonderful moment it was at the end of our work when we compared a piece of clay set-aside at the beginning with the worked clay. When we held both pieces against our cheeks, how cold in contrast was the untouched piece of clay! Great astonishment!
We are inspired by the book Basic Sculptural Modeling: Developing the Will by Working with Pure Forms in the First Three Grades Hella Loewe
250 finger knitted, hand cut, hand sewn Harvest Festival Star Crowns. 250 opportunities to bring increased finger sensitivity and fine motor skills to our students.
Did you see the lovely capes trailing behind our kindergarten class at the Harvest Festival? These were a joint project of our 7th and Kindergarten students. In Handwork, the 7th graders sewed the casings on the capes. The Kindergarteners finger-knitted the goldenrod wool ties. Together the classes dipped the capes in marigold dye made from marigolds grown in Gardening class (the same marigolds that are strung and dried in Spanish for Dia de los Muertos). Mrs. Salyer told a beautiful fall story woven together with a song and a verse recited by the 7th graders at a moving ceremony during main lesson last week.
It would have melted your heart to see this dear connection between our students and the coordination between subjects and classes that it takes to bring a project like this to life.
Today I get to begin my spring visits to the 3rd grade handwork classrooms. Mrs. Doeskin and Mrs. Johnson teach these students but I get to have them in my 4th grade handwork classes next year. I am excited to see what they are creating and to alter my curriculum to suit them to help create a successful 4th grade year.
I'll be taking my knitting to work along side them and I'm taking them the gift of a poem.
There was a witch who knitted things:
Elephants and playground swings.
She knitted rain,
She knitted night,
But nothing really came out right.
The elephants had just one tusk
And night looked more
Like dawn or dusk.
The rain was snow
And when she tried
To knit an egg
It came out fried.
She knitted birds
And twenty rubber butter rolls.
She knitted blue angora trees.
She purl stitched countless purple fleas.
She knitted a palace in need of a darn.
She knitted a battle and ran out of yarn.
She drew out a strand
Of her gleaming, green hair
And knitted a lawn
Till she just wasn't there.
by Karla Kuskin
Here is a lovely video showing the basic steps of knitting. I prefer a different rhyme (Under the Gate, Catch the Sheep, Pull it though, Off it leaps.") primarily because it reinforces the sheep stories I tell when teaching knitting. This video uses an equally efficient rhyme and, of course, children can make up their own rhyme, too! Happy knitting!
In our school, our brave 3rd grade classroom teachers lead the lesson blocks on fibers including skirting, washing, carding and spinning a fleece. (I've heard that in other schools much of this work is carried by the handwork teachers.)
I don't get to teach 3rd grade handwork since we have a lower grades handwork specialist. But that doesn't stop me from wishing I got to be there when children first had these experiences!
Hera are four videos that I've shared with our third grade teachers about this process.
First, here is a classroom friendly system for washing wool. Last year our 3rd grade class washed wool in the hall sinks. However, since our school has temperature dampeners on our student access sinks, we added hot water from the kitchen sink and tea-pots. I found that the Dawn dish soap really does work better.
I'm charmed by this vlogger, Jenna, and her simple demonstration of washing, carding and spinning. During the carding section, I'd have students put one card on their leg and pull against that rather than trying to do it mid-air as Jenna does.
Here is a simple video on dyeing wool with the marigolds in our natural dye garden. Third grade could do this after their yarn is spun.
Then, of course, I'd ask them to watch my favorite video ever, about spinning or any other subject.
Won't it be powerful for our students to know that they have the skill to make their own beautiful yarn?
Mrs. Barbara Albert