Thursday, November 03, 2011

A New Coat for Anna

This was a great book.  It takes place in post-war Europe when money and supplies were scarce.  Anna needs a winter coat and her mother barters various possessions to get one.  The emphasis of the story is on the process of coat making as we follow it from sheep to finish.

We started this unit with a bartering activity.  K pretended to be a mother of several children living on a farm.  One of the children becomes ill, so the doctor is called. 

T was recruited for the doctor role and he was glad to oblige.

After the doctor paid his visit, K told him she had no money, but offered him what she could from the resources on her farm.  I had supplied pictures of various crops/eggs/meat and so on.  There was quite a lot to choose from.  The doctor decided he liked strawberries best.

This was a fun activity for the kids to act out and I think K was able to grasp the concept pretty well.

K dictated an informative story (she decided on "How to Make a Nature Sculpture") and we practiced linear measuring with a ruler, yardstick and measuring tape across the living room.

We examined how clothing is made from wool.  We spent some extra time on this-- 4 days altogether, I think.  First we watched a few videos on Youtube of people carding wool and spinning it on a spinning wheel. 
Then we launched into our own project of dyeing and using patterns to make a doll pillow.

First we cut square patterns from old cotton socks.

I got the fabric ready for the dye by simmering it in half vinegar, half water for about an hour.  Doing this also sets the dye.

Then we got ready to dye the sock squares.  We used two techniques for this, Kool-Aid and natural dyes.  I used this site for how to dye cotton with Kool-Aid.  This natural dyes website has a huge amount of information of different plant materials that can be used and what colors they will produce.  I basically followed the process of dyeing as described on this site, but also used this site.  I liked that the second one suggested using more than one plant source for a richer color.

Based on the amount of sock squares we were able to cut, I decided to dye with two colors of Kool-Aid and three with natural materials.  We did spinach in one pot,

frozen strawberries, pink rose petals and red Virginia Creeper leaves in another,

and onion skins, paprika and dandelion root in the third.

Each dye was simmered for about an hour, then we added the sock squares to the pots.  The onion skin color seemed to be fairly strong, so its squares simmered for an additional hour, then rinsed.  After the spinach and strawberries squares had simmered one hour, I turned off the burners and let them soak in the dyes overnight.

 The squares were carefully rinsed and allowed to dry.  Cotton absorbs less dye than wool, so the colors came out somewhat muted.  This is how they looked, left to right: Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid, Grape Kool-Aid, spinach, onion mixture, strawberry mixture.

Since there were ten squares, K chose 8 for the bigger pillow and 2 for the mini pillow.  Not having used a sewing machine since oh, about the 8th grade, I was pleasantly surprised by the results.  The kids enjoyed stuffing the pillows--getting them just the right thickness.

It was so much fun to see how the dyes turned out and experiment with the colors in this project. 

Since the book also discussed weaving the yarn, we couldn't leave that step out in our study of this unit.  I showed K a Youtube video of a loom being used.  Then she made a woven placemat with construction paper.  I was afraid I had made it too complex for her, but once she understood the process, she really enjoyed making it and was proud of her finished product.

In addition, since there is a fiber arts center close to us, we took a field trip to visit it.  Though it was geared more toward quilters (with some beautiful quilts to see), there were also spinning wheels and they happened to have extra looms on display for the month of October. The lady working there was very gracious in showing us each of them and explaining how they worked.  K thought it was funny to learn new words like shuttle, warp and woof.  K and T were even invited to try out one of the looms.

It was a fascinating visit.  It made me realize anew the benefits of homeschooling.  We were able to simply get in the car and visit; since it was just us, the lady working there gave us special attention and really tried to help K understand weaving, as well as gave us historical information about looms.  (The colonists' use of them contributed to the beginning of the Revolutionary War.)  And the fact that K actually got to weave on a real loom--if it had been a class visiting, it would have taken forever to give everyone a turn, and each of the children certainly would not have been able to get so close to each loom for as long as he/she wanted.

After learning about the looms, we looked at the yarns for sale.

T really wanted me to take a picture of the 'lallow'.

This was such a fun Five in a Row unit.  I'm so glad we had the opportunity to do these activities.


Joelle said...

Wow! So fun! I think I want to come to your class. I'm a bit envious that you can do the activities with Tobiah and he doesn't mess them up. We have to do all our FIAR while Timmy is asleep since he tends to destroy everything. I hope he outgrows that soon! We're at the hotel in San Antonio now (got in this evening). On Saturday we'll go to Sea World and see some jellyfish!! This is quite the field trip, huh? :)

Dana said...

Maybe next you can make a lattice top pie! Edible weaving.

Anonymous said...

Great row! Thanks for sharing :)