Wednesday, February 6, 2013

We call them "Floppy Friends". Weaving with drinking straws by Grades 4 - 6.

If you've never woven with drinking straws you don't know what you're missing!  It is so much fun for the kids but I must warn you it is exhausting for the teacher.  We spent four weeks creating what we like to call our "floppy friends".  The technique is challenging but my students rose to the occasion with a lot of support from me.  We finished today and I warned them that I would not be taking out yarn again for a long time!  I did this lesson with all of my upper elementary students.  We started with four drinking straws and inserted the warp threads, which consisted of a multitude of different colored yarn.  It's fun to suck the yarn up through the straw and have it end up in your mouth.  The kids all giggled and laughed at this new weird experience.  The warp threads were roughly two feet long.  We tape a small tail at the top of the straw and gather up all the warp threads at the bottom and tie an over hand knot so the treads are secure.  To begin the weaving we use a over hand knot and attach it to the first straw on the left and the first straw on the right if   the student is left handed.  The weaving process is the traditional over under under over.  Once the first few rows are done it becomes much easier to manage holding the straws in one hand and the weft in the other. The weft threads are no more then 15' long by the way.  Any longer and it becomes too hard to handle.  If the student runs out of weft thread it can easily be tied on.  I tell my students that weaving is a very forgiving art form.  This helps as the children can become concerned about these minor issues.  The weaving when complete is about 5" to 6" long.  
When the students are finished weaving the knot at the bottom of the straw loom is untied and the students push the weaving off of the straws.  This step is a little scary because it seems like things are going to fall apart, fortunately they don't.  The warp threads need to be tied securely at the top and bottom then trimmed. We begin at the bottom of the weaving first.  We tie two threads at a time as opposed to all of the warp threads at once.  Next it's time to slide the straws off.  It's really important to be careful during this step.  As you recall we had taped a small tail over the edge of the straw to secure it and prohibit it from slipping down into the straw.  You should have enough extra yarn at the top, at least 10" or so to prevent the warp thread from being pulled down into the body of the weaving.  Once this happens you pretty much have to start over as it's practically impossible to retrieve.  I only had one student who met up with this misfortune and we all stopped and observed a moment of silence for our fallen floppy friend!
The kids did a great job with the abundance of collage materials I had on hand coupled with a healthy dose of imagination.  







3 comments:

  1. I've done straw weaving too, with my 4th graders. Once the kids got the hang of it, they did great. When they were done, I ironed them all flat and we made them bookmarks, but I like your 'floppy friends' idea so much better. Pinning!!

    Last time I made the bookmarks, I had a new student from Denmark who didn't speak a word of English,who arrived. The day we began straw weaving. He carefully watched the demos, and did a fabulous job. Each time he wanted to change colors, he went and looked carefully at the color wheel on the wall. He carefully tied on the next color in sequence each time, and in the end, had a lovely rainbow bookmark, and he turned out to be a really sweet kid.

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  2. I've been doing these straw weavings with my students for years but never thought to make them into floppy friends. We always made bookmarks. Love this idea and am inspire to take them further this year. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. That's funny because my kids all want to make bracelets and belts, etc. I tell them after we finish our "floppy friends" they can do all the belts and bracelets that they want! They love it!
      Thanks for the comment and I'm happy to have inspired you!

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