During our first trimester this school year, in every classroom (preschool to sixth grade!), students read Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett. The book tells the story of a child who finds a magical box of yarn that never seems to run out as she knits sweaters to keep everyone in her town warm. Throughout the school, students wondered about their own personal gifts and how might they share these with others.
Preschoolers used the text as a launching point for an exploration of yarn as a material. We used the yarn in so many different ways:
- Painting with yarn
- Creating mixed media collages, with yarn as one possibility
- Cutting yarn
- Painting yarn lines at the easel
- Tying things with yarn
- Creating simple machines - yarn as cranes, pulleys, lifts
- Passing a ball of yarn
- Throwing a ball of yarn
- Measuring things with yarn
- Tracing yarn lines
- Drawing in and around a 'cobweb' of yarn on the table
- Using yarn as bandages in our doctor's dramatic play
- Making bracelets
- Sewing with yarn
- Using yarn with clay
- Wrapping items in yarn ("yarn bombing")
My favorite yarn activity was dipping yarn in watercolor paint, changing white yarn into a new color.
We repeated this activity over many days. I set up paint containers with rainbow colors and the children used tweezers to retrieve the yarn from the paint, then laying this bright yarn onto paper which made a yarn print.
I enjoyed watching the children explore the tweezers with the yarn and paint.
Specifically, I enjoyed watching their hands at work.
Truly, it is magical to watch children's hands at work.
I loved watching them try to pick up the yarn with the tweezer…some resorting to lifting the yarn onto the tweezer…
Some worked with two tweezers at a time,
Others used their fingers in the paint, moving the yarn about with their hands.
Some dipped the tweezer into the paint - not the yarn - and dragging this painted tool across the paper.
One young artist dipped the yarn into the watery paint and then pulled the yarn taut, sending sprinkles of paint everywhere.
Many children found mixing the colors together to be an irresistible goal, quickly turning each watercolor paint container into brown.
all succeeded in creating magical paintings.
Here are just five:
It was so much fun to explore yarn in depth…to see limitless possibilities of this basic material.