Weaving is an activity that uses a person’s hands to create something of beauty. It is also a wonderful activity to teach your young child to occupy them for hours. Simple weaving is one of the first things that children learn in art classes by using an assortment of different materials. Weaving can help to strengthen and promote some of the following areas of childhood development:
• Hand eye coordination
• Offers relaxing and tactile work experience
• Reinforces good habits such as following directions and patience
• Helps to find tune and develop fine motor skills
• Promotes right and left coordination
• Increases attention span and focus
Weaving can also be intertwined with a numerous amount of core curriculums such as social studies, writing, and math. Weaving is an activity that boasts a lot of good things and it is an activity that both you and your child can learn together and experience together. Below are some easy tips on getting started with weaving.
1. You have to gather all of your materials. Anyone who has children knows that this is an important step because if you do not gather all of your material beforehand you could have quite a mess on your hands when trying to do so later. The first thing you are going to have to gather are ingredients to make your own looms. Weaving looms can be made out of anything from wood to paper plates, to cardboard. For this manual we are going to discuss making cardboard looms as it is straightforward and cardboard can be found virtually anywhere. A list of materials:
Cardboard, this can be anything from a cereal box to an old pizza box.
Plastic of metal needles. Beginners or younger children will benefit more from the use of a plastic needle whereas advanced or older learners may feel more confident with a metal needle.
Yarn. Thicker yarn will be easier for a beginner verses a thinner yarn for more advanced students.
2. You have to craft your loom. This is where you take the cardboard and draw lines roughly ½ inch on the inside of every corner of the loom. This will work as a reference point for the grooves. You will then take your ruler and mark where you need to cut for your notches. Normally it is a good rule of thumb to keep the notches roughly ¼ inch apart however for beginners they may feel more comfortable having wider spaces between the notches. The wider the space the easier it will be to weave. Take your scissors and cut your little marks and stop when you get to the last line, which should be your ½ inch line.
3. You have to warp your loom or thread your yarn. This part is easier done with a thinner type of yarn. Thread the end of your string to your first notch starting at the left and going right. Help your child create a knot and encourage them to tape their excess sting to the back of their cardboard piece. Take your thread and string it directly down to the notch directly below it. Bring the thread back up to the next top notch and repeat the process until you have completely strung each notch. You should end at the bottom right corner of your loom and the excess after knotting should be taped to the back of the cardboard piece as well.
4. Now it is time to weave!This is the fun part. Take a long piece of yarn, ranging around two feet, and begin by threading the yarn through the needle. Plastic needles are good for children because they encourage an appropriate grip as well as make the weaving process easier. Needles do not necessarily have to be used and it is possible for the child to simple use their hands to weave the yarn in and out. However, children with sensory issues will benefit more from using the plastic needles. The plastic needles are inexpensive and can be found in your local craft stores.
Gently explain to your child that with weaving they have to make an over and under pattern. Show them how to guide the needle through the yarn starting with the underside of the first string and then coming over the second string and then under the third etc. Be patient with your child if they mess up. Rome was not build in a day and neither was your child’s weaving abilities. Like with every new task there are going to be mishaps and sometimes you will have to unthread their work in order to show them how to do it the correct way. This activity is supposed to be a fun activity that you can enjoy with your children. Do not add any more stress than there needs to be.
Once the needle has passed through the strings show your child how to pull the yarn all the way through. Then teach them how to push up the yarn that has been weaved through to make a tighter pattern. Then bring the needle and yarn back through the strings in the same over and under pattern.
Teach your children not to pull too hard on the strings because otherwise it will over warp your cardboard and distort the shape of whatever you are trying to accomplish. As you continue to make more rows gently push them up the loom to create a more patterned look.
5. Introduce new colors. Part of the fun of weaving is getting to make new patterns and using different colors. Once your first string comes to an end cut a new string in a different color. Since you are working with your child it is easier to show them how to tie the end of one string to the beginning of the new string. While there are neater ways to accomplish the transition in color when working with children it is better to keep it simple. Set the child up to continue the same over and under pattern that they were doing before.
6. Take it off the loom. Once your child’s masterpiece is completed it is time to take it off the loom. Remember that you are working with children and not accomplished weavers. It is going to be a bit messy and imperfect, which is what makes it perfect. If it is easier for your child to take the weaving off of the grooves and tie off all the excess let them. This is your child’s work and you should not upset them by trying to make them understand tucking or other weaving terms. Your child does not care. They just care that they have accomplished something beautiful.
Remember it is important that you and your child have fun with this activity. Neither one of you are accomplished weavers so don’t set bars too high. Just take the time to enjoy the quality time spent with your child.