We’ve been exploring weaving in our homeschool lately and it’s been so fun! Wall hangings like THESE are actually really popular these days for home decor and though we are just covering the basics, I hope to make one of these grown up versions real soon!
When I was little I did quite a bit of weaving with the homemade looms my grandpa used to make for me. I mostly made potholders and ‘doll blankets’ while I sat at the family hardware store waiting to be picked up between my parents’ work shifts. It was fun to come up with different color combinations and try out different types of string and yarn, but little did I know that weaving had other benefits that were good for me too:
When my grandpa would hand me a new-sized loom, I had to pay close attention in order to follow directions – Grandpa would explain to me how to wrap the string around the nails and tie it off so it wouldn’t slip while I would weave. Then I had to concentrate while weaving: over under, over under and then back again the opposite way for the following row. Taking my creation off the loom carefully and tying off the ends so it wouldn’t unravel required focus too. From the time I started until I finished, my mind was focused on following each step in order to produce a great piece.
This also greatly increased my ability to focus and lengthened my attention span.
As my fingers would work, I didn’t realize that I was developing my fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.
Working from left to right and right to left, counting rows, recognizing and creating patterns all helped with my reading and math skills.
It also calmed me and helped me to relax when I was hyper or edgy.
Learning to complete what I start and being able to create a well-made piece of art also made me feel good about myself and my abilities which in turn, helped my overall self-esteem.
All these skills are valuable for children to posses… and I was learning them from something as simple as weaving a potholder for my grandmother!
When I was planning our art studies for this year, I knew I wanted to include weaving projects for my own children. We have started with simple cardboard and paper plate looms, and eventually I will add either store-bought or homemade wooden looms to our collection. I want to explore various materials too– we’re starting with yarn, (the boys insisted on U of M colors- GO Blue!) but will move into adding fabrics, beads and other textiles as well.
Here’s some tips that I have for weaving with kids:
- Make it simple— if your children haven’t woven before, it’ll take some time to get used to the skills required. Space the notches in your looms no closer than a centimeter in between– this way the strings are not so close together that it becomes confusing to keep track of the weaving patterns and flow.
- Let your child choose as much of the project as they can– colors of yarn, loom type- round or rectangle, etc…- this helps them to take ownership.
- Praise praise praise! — Lots of encouragement as they are in the learning process– “Wow, look how wide that stripe of blue is with the 6 rows you have woven! It’s so bold, I like it!”
- Help them ‘think’ through their process (but don’t take over!)– “I see you used 6 rows on your blue stripe- will you do the same with yellow, or will you make the yellow thinner or broader?”
- Patience– Weaving might come easily to your child, or it might not. Remaining patient with them and yourself will help to take the pressure off and just enjoy the process of learning. The first day, my boys only wove about 6 rows each, the next day, they finished about 10 before they were ready to move onto a new subject for the day. THAT’s OK. I personally would have finished my project within a few hours because I am obsessive like that, but my boys are gradually easing into their love of weaving, so I am careful not to pressure them to ‘do more’ because I know that doing so would steal the joy right out of it. If all they do is a few rows a day, that’s all right! Eventually, they will finish the project and they will be proud of their accomplishment.
- Have fun and join in when you can! Make your own creation. Your kiddos will love you for joining in with them. Put some music on and talk while you weave. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be planning your next grown up project in your head!
Bottom line- Weaving is FUN! It’s a great way to develop valuable skills and, just like most art, it’s good for the soul! Now go make some art!