With about three weeks of school already finished, I thought I’d post a peek at what we’ve been up to in Handwork. First Grade has been practicing slip knots and finger knitting and will begin sanding dowels to make their knitting needles in our next lesson. Second Grade is continuing their projects from first grade (knitted balls and lions) and our new friends are knitting flute cases. Third Grade also continued with their sewn felt marble maze projects from last year, which many of them had waited so very patiently to create. As each student finishes their marble maze, they jump right into crochet by learning about the hook, how to hold tension on the yarn, and how to crochet chains (see below).
Fourth Grade just had their second double-period lesson today, and they have been working on embroidered felt needle savers (see below) and finely sewn linen Handwork bags.
Before I forget, students in grades four-eight usually have lessons in the Handwork Room. This year in the Handwork Room, I am trying out an idea that I got from a Handwork colleague. It’s called the “Do Now” board. This gives the students guidance and initiative when they enter the room so that they know what to do in case I am otherwise engaged in some way before our greeting and verse, such as gathering materials or skimming my lesson plan book. Some days it simply lets them know where to sit (see above), but other times it might have instructions on it about which materials to gather, what to bring to the table, or what to prepare.
Fifth Grade began the year sanding and waxing double pointed knitting needles. Some students are getting a refresher on knitting and our newest friends are just learning how to knit. Their stitch sampler project, a small knitted owl, allows them to work their way through many of the stitches and techniques we will use when we make socks later on. They have also taken turns learning how to skein yarn using an umbrella swift, skeining boards, and knitty noddies. They even worked on sorting through an amazing donation of onion skins from Cam Schumacher, the Produce Manager at the Durham Co-Op Market. (see below) The skins will not only be used to plant dye yarn for their socks, but also felt for Second Grade’s Michaelmas project and Third Grade’s crochet. Hooray!
The first group of Sixth Graders* worked through some trial and error in order to felt name tags for their Handwork boxes (see below). It was definitely an exercise in fully following directions and a tactile experience. They have since moved on to studying elephants; their shape, their movement, their family herds, and more! Before they began drawing their elephant patterns for soft sculptures, we first worked our way through drawing and clay activities (see below).
Seventh Grade group* has been working steadily to begin their dolls, forming them from the inside outward. They created an inner core for the head using paper, yarn, wool, and tubular gauze. The eye line, chin, and nape of the neck were tied off and sewn. We then sat the heads aside and began drawing out the doll pattern proportions based on each student’s individual doll head measurements. Yes, “actual real math in Handwork”! The Eighth Grade group* had a little history lesson on the sewing machine and how they came about during the Industrial Revolution. We had an interesting discussion about modern conveniences (tools, electronics, machinery, etc.) and how life has changed because of them. After each student tried out the treadle sewing machine, we moved on to electric sewing machines. We have covered the basics, including parts of the machine, it’s simple usage, and a little about fabric characteristics. After practice sewing, they began working on a special project for First Grade. Shhh… don’t tell. It’s a surprise.
*Middle school classes are divided into two groups so that they share those Practical Arts periods in their schedule with Woodworking. Each student in the grade school still receives the equivalent of two 45-minute periods per week. It just doesn’t always spread throughout the entire school year.