Thursday, January 31, 2013

Weaving (the elephant in the room--literally)

It's a bit embarrassing that I haven't posted these yet, as these projects have been dangling from the walls for quite awhile now. They've even been featured on our school news channel. But not on this blog--fail.

Once upon a time, my first graders made colorful 9x12" weavings on which they traced the shape of an elephant, a la Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. (I saw the Elmer idea on Pinterest, from here.)

We went through a whole spiel to fold, draw, and cut the proper lines on the 9x12" paper to get the warp.

Then the over/under games began!

For some unknown reason, I kept referring to their strips of paper as 'chicken strips' all throughout this project. Then I got really hungry and one Friday night sent my husband to the grocery store for chicken strips. I felt better after that.

The kiddos traced Elmer patterns that I made but had to add the eye and ear on their own. I adore the individual results--from eyelashes to bug eyes, floppy ears to teeny tiny people ears!

The kiddos loved their Elmers and I was pleased with this quickie result. I have a weaving phobia, people. I don't know where it came from, and I imagine that the cure might be just doing it for cryin' outloud, but alas, here we are. I have yet to pull out the surplus of yarn that lurks in the boxes stacked atop my cabinets (maybe because the janitor once found a bat living up there? eeek!), and show my darlings the (supposed) joy of the loom. I suppose I could blame the curriculum--beyond paper weaving with the little kiddos, it's not a requirement. Adding a pachyderm into the weaving equation makes this much more interesting, if you ask me.

So go ahead and judge my lack of bravery on the yarn weaving end of things. Maybe a little judgment is what I need to get my bootie into gear! And now, two questions for you:

1. When weaving with paper, do you pre-cut your warp (or 'looms') for the kiddos, or have them do it themselves?

2. Second, do you allow students to glue down their imperfections or prefer to try to fix all wrong turns? 'Cause I'm undecided--sometimes I act as the paper weaving police, while other times I enjoy the quirkiness of a misplaced paper strip.


  1. I have the kids cut the loom. Too much work if I do it myself.

    I let the kids loose who got it right to go help their peers who didn't quite figure it out. Then they work on it as a team...that cuts down on the imperfections. :)

    I am so glad my post and my blog brightened your daily plans. I must say this elephant project is SO cute. So cute in fact that I am pinning it!! :)

    BTW, love this post title...

    1. Thanks for weighing in!

      This is how I approach it, too. I think that it's good for the kids to have to fold neatly (which some of them struggle with), follow my directions as we draw out our lines, and work to evenly space the lines that they'll then cut to make the looms.

      I use the early finishers as "mini Mrs. Connells," which works out great for everyone. The tricky part is making sure they're helping and not just doing the project for their lil' buddy.

      Glad you like the project--check out the original, where the kiddos added patterns onto the non-Elmer parts of their weavings. We ran out of time--and I kinda forgot, hehe.

  2. First of all, NO, I do not precut the warps when I do paper weaving w/kids, but I go through a carefully monitored step-by-step process. But in past 2 years I was frustrated by the challenge of the process with 1st grade, and I found a really cool stress-free weaving prospect that I posted about here:

    Not to overload you with links, but I first posted about it here:

    I also posted a couple of other weaving projects there, including one with yarn. Yarn projects on a loom (which I love to do) can be very time-consuming, but this project, weaving into burlap, is VERY easy and the kids get super-excited by the process. I highly recommend it for someone timid about weaving.

    As for the mistakes in paper weaving, here's what I do: I 'beep beep beep' (that's a back-up noise) as I pull out mistaken strips, until it becomes clear that the kid simply is in over his head, and then I let it go and keep the mistakes. I ever redo a kid's work myself. The first kids to finish (there are always a couple of speedy and accurate kids) become teacher helpers and they assist their confused neighbors. They are absolutely adorable, and I'll hear them saying things like "check for opposites" or "should this one go over or under?" or "tell me your pattern". So cute! I circulate, pushing everyone's strips closing together ('make sure each strip is snuggling with their neighbor'). In the end, we glue the ends down, so that the boo boos don't wiggle out. And I leave the mistakes. The kids are 6 or 7 years old! Mistakes are ok.

    1. I appreciate the response--thanks! I do the beeping, too! That's funny!

      And thanks for the links. I'm perusing them over my lunch here and love those funky, twisted, recycled weavings!

      I love the mistakes, too--I think it adds character.

      This blogging community has made such a difference for me this year, from advice to new projects to conversations and a sort of accountability. I've done so much more reflecting (and purging of not-so-hot projects) this year than in years prior.

  3. Ooh, I just had another thought about these cute elephants. Wouldn't it be cool to paint the negative space around Elmer? Maybe just some blue for sky and green for grass and trees, or all black. Then the patterned elephants would really 'pop'. And then I would mount them on a piece of construction paper, and use leftover weaving strips cut up in squares to glue as a decorative border.

    By the way, when I did weavings like this with grade 1, I made the weaving strips as long as the length of the loom paper, so that when the kids wove, there was an inch or two of strip sticking out the side. Then we either folded them under to glue, or glued under them and cut the ends in fringes. Sometimes we laminated them for placemats, but that got kind of pricey.

    1. I like those ideas! In the original lesson plan I found, the kids added patterns around Elmer--I think I like the blackout idea even more that that, though.

      I'm going to try your overhanging strip idea next time (or maybe with a small group for re-teaching?). Thanks!