an old hoop…a new provocation

weaving wheelWhat do you do with an old broken hula-hoop? Add some twine and some weaving materials and hang it from a tree! But before doing that, we allowed the children to take a closer look and talk about what they noticed. One of the first things they said was that it “looks like a big spider web!” Some of the excess twine was weaved in the centre of the wheel. As the children observed, they noticed that the twine went “in and out.” We  introduced the word “weaving” and one of the children said, “It’s when you do over and under.” Once the wheel was hung on the tree, the children immediately began to weave the materials. Friends from another class came over to help and explore the wheel as well.weaving wheel 1

We brought the materials in with us but left the wheel outside for the afternoon. By the end of the day, the wheel was looking like…well….a bit of a mess. Not that it was a problem. It was their first attempt at weaving. Some of the children simply wanted to explore the materials. First and foremost, that’s exactly what I want them to do – explore. Exploration leads to discovery and problem-solving and that’s exactly what happened. When we looked at the wheel the following day, the children weren’t pleased with what had become of it. One of them who was very invested in her weaving said, “That one all ugly,” when she noticed the changes that had been made to her work. Another said, “It’s not weaved.  It’s messy.” So, I went back to their original connection – a spider web. weaving wheel 2

We looked at pictures of spider webs and the children shared their thoughts:

A: I see a circle in the middle.

R:  I see spirals.

O:  I see the spider made some up and under, but he didn’t do under.  He only went up.

A:  We need to take all the decorations off and make a big circle.

P:  And do more weaving!

weaving packageAnd then came the package! For those of you who follow on Twitter, I had posted the weaving wheel provocation and thanks to a wonderful colleague and Kindergarten teacher extraordinaire, Laurel Fynes, a surprise package arrived in the mail. The children were curious about what was inside and recorded their predictions which included worms, paper, blocks, wood, a branch, and a monster truck. When the package was unwrapped, we were thrilled to find grasses, fabric and strips of paper. The children were so mesmerized by the red cellophane it was wrapped in, I knew we had to cut it into strips and add that as well.

Weaving close up

 The children also collected dandelions and added pinecones.

weaving wheel 4

A while back, we started our “Beautiful Stuff” project.  When looking at the materials, one child said, “It’s beautiful stuff!” Indeed it is…as is their beautiful web.

7 thoughts on “an old hoop…a new provocation

  1. What struck me most about this shared experience, was the children’s ability to reflect on their work and to then revisit their project in order to make changes. Clearly, they are learning how to develop criteria which they can refer to for decision-making. In this case, the process and product were equally beautiful.

    • Thanks Amanda. Honestly, it was a reflective experience for me as well. When I saw how their original efforts became tangled, I didn’t think they would have any interest in continuing. You think I would know better! I’m glad I brought it back for their thoughts. They never disappoint and are always so eager to carry on. That’s one of the things I love about Kindergarten.

  2. Your posts are always thought-provoking, and this is no exception. I said it on twitter but it bears repeating here: the way you outline the process for you and your students, especially their frank assessment of the first product – that sent chills down my spine.
    This is something I have been noticing in my class as well. Collaborative art projects (a serious passion of mine) seem to lead to greater awareness, as students observe the way their contributions are changed with others’ input. Sometimes we as educators need to ask those rich questions to help them to be aware, but it shows in your posts that your students are well-versed in seeing their thinking, and reflecting upon it.

    That was the first chill. Then to read your shout out (thank you!) and to see how the class responded to the provocation – ooh! This is another way teaching has become so much more interesting this year: students in my class are very aware of the larger community of Kindrgarten Learners, because of the wonderful “We Can See” blog that we participate in. When I showed them your original twitter pic, and another from a nearby twitter friend at Clifton PS, the kids were not only interested to see the weaving work of other classes, but they were delighted to share our materials as well. I was so touched by your post I thought my students might be too.

    Yesterday I put this up on the screen for my PM class, as they had gone to collect grasses to share. They were so excited, and also responded as they do to classes on the “We Can See” project blog. Here are their ideas and wonderings for you and your class.

    First I shared the first part of the story, and we paused on the photos of the weaving and the web. (Note: we have many students who begin with S!)

    S: (Spiders) have really small hands. That’s why they can weave like that – really carefully.
    Sh: And spider webs are sticky, too (so lines don’t slip).
    F: Spiders have eight legs.
    S: They make webs from their bodies, not hands like us.
    S: Spiders use them (webs) to catch their lunch.
    J: They have tiny claws to grab, and they grab through the strings on the web.
    L: Sticky!
    A: Some lines are the same (pointing at two pictures) but the broken parts are different.

    Next, we read the rest of the story. My class were really tickled by the predictions, especially the monster truck! Many noticed the fabric pieces we had sent, because they had used the same fabrics in our frame weaving. Here are the voices I managed to capture (the words came fast and furious when they saw the final picture!)

    D: I like it because it’s big.
    Sh: It looks fantastic!
    C: I like the new weaving.
    N: I like it!
    S: It’s very pretty because you fixed it.
    L: This is a beautiful circle.
    F: I’d like to make one like that, too.
    Ms. F.: I wonder, do you think we could make a web on a hoop, too?
    F: Yes, let’s try.
    Ms. F.: Do we have those materials, like a hoop and the thick string?
    F: We could ask!

    So, there you have it. Your wonderful web has inspired further exploration among the PM class. I wonder what might happen whenI share with the AM class, in which two students noticed connections between designs in Rangoli, mehndi, and mandalas (that post soon).

    • Laurel,

      Thanks so much for your comments. As I mentioned in reply to Amanda, I really thought this experience was going to be a dud. I have to admit it was a little disheartening to see what had happened to the wheel after we had gone inside, but I’m glad it did. Both the children and I were quite content with what they had originally weaved before the “mishap.” For me, this was just another reminder of the importance of process over product and of the importance of slowing down. I was going to leave it be, but then I thought, why not bring it back to the children? It’s when we do that, and get their thoughts and reactions that we realize how reflective they are.

      I absolutely agree with you about how collaborative are projects lead to greater awareness on the children’s part. This awareness also led to showing respect for each other’s ideas. As children left their weaving and others picked up where they left off, some of them wanted to remove what those before them had done. It was a good opportunity to remind them that we need to respect the work of others and before making changes, we should ask. And they did!

      Thanks also for sharing the post with your students. Their comments are priceless! Thank goodness for spiders and their small hands…such careful weavers those spiders are! I love it. My class will be thrilled that there are comments waiting for them. I can’t wait to share! I’ll let you know how they react.

      This would not have unfolded as it did without your thoughtfulness. The timing of the package couldn’t have been more perfect.

      I love the work you’re doing with your children! Very inspiring!


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