Easy weaving project for a class full of kids. Use as an art auction idea.

Every year, my kids’ primary school has an art auction. Each class from Prep through Year Two does a whole class collaborative piece. It gives the kids a chance to work on something together and then to sell that creation to raise money for the school. It is a great lesson in fundraising and co-working, but it is also depends completely on parent volunteers to happen. Last year, I was not the class parent rep for either of the twins meaning I was able to bow out of any responsibility as the event fell right on the time I would be in the states speaking at a conference. Now, I love the idea of doing art projects at school and relish working with the kids, but it takes a lot of time. Time I use to work as a freelance photographer and blogger. This year the call went out and as I am the class rep for one of the twins, I had to find someone to take on the role. I knew I would be out of town most of the weekends that the project was running, so my weekdays were going to be packed with work. Despite being out of the country when the planning meetings happened and first begging my class list for someone to run it followed later by desperate pleas for at least a partner to run it with me, I had no takers. I am not telling you this for sympathy or praise, I actually just want to share the cool idea I settled on and how easy it is to pull off with random little blocks of minimal time, lots of kids and no mess! You can even do it with a pretty low budget. I know there are others in the same boat as I was.

In the end, we have a gorgeous and quirky piece of collaborative artwork that really is a metaphor for the class themselves. A mix of many different colours, sizes and textures of yarn woven together with patience and love and just a few mistakes for added interest all hanging from a strong olive branch. If that doesn’t say, “We” then I don’t know what does.

What you will need:

In addition to some tape, scissors and a lot of patience…

Branch – I have an abundance of olive trees, so I am going to just take a branch from the front yard. Bonus, the olive branch has extra meaning imbued.

Thick Card Board – We are FLUSH with cardboard boxes as they take up so much room in the recycling bin that they have piled up in the garage. I picked the sturdiest I had and cut it up into a few different sized rectangles. I used the largest one so that the piece could be made with many rows of yarn done by a class of 25 kids!

Yarn – This is where you can go wild with texture and colours. I hit up my local Spotlight store for the biggest range as I had none on hand at home, but you can ask your class to bring in a ball each. The benefit of sourcing it all yourself is that you can have some control over the colour flow and ensure that you get a variety of sizes for visual interest. With the many different kids in mind, I went for a wide selection of types and let the kids pick the ones that spoke to them.

Primary school collaborative art project. Weaving on a cardboard loom in progress.

First you will need to make the loom.

Take one of the cardboard rectangles and mark a horizontal line at least 5 centimetres in from each edge of two opposite ends. Draw the line running parallel to the edges. Next, mark off 1/2 centimetre sections along the edge and cut those perpendicular from the cardboard’s edge to the horizontal line you just drew. Do the same on the opposite end and these will establish your loom anchors for the warp threads.

Next, make the base warp threads of the loom. Start by choosing a your base colour of yarn in a small weight. Tie one end to the first section of the loom edge and then drag the yarn down and through then first gap at the other edge wrapping the yarn back up to the top and through the first gap there. Continue wrapping the warp thread like this until every gap has yarn run through it. Tie the yarn off at the last loom edge.

To make it easy for the kids, I started and ended the weaving myself with tight and precise weaving with thin yarn.

Basically it is just Over and Under the warp threads with their chosen (weft) yarn leaving tails of their yarn at either end of their turn. These tails of yarn will be secured into the back of the final weaving at the very end so that it does not unravel. I temporarily secured them with paper tape along the side of the loom.

quick tip for little weavers, make a tunnel for them.

Now here is my tip. If you are doing a large piece and/or working with younger kids, this will actually take a LONG time. I worked out that it was about 45-60 minutes per 2 kids making this about a 12-15 hour long project in total. (That includes the time I spent sawing the dang olive branch off the tree and finishing the many little tails of yarn into the back.) To speed it up, I decided after a few sets of kids to make a “tunnel” tool so that they did not have to actually go “over/under” each thread. It was a complete hack job, but just took two pieces of paper taped together lengthwise and then rolled a bit to create small sides. I lifted every other warp thread and slid the paper through and the kids just had to tunnel their yarn through keeping the paper as the floor and the yarn as the roof. Bigger kids probably would not have had to use this method nor would they need as much supervision but six and seven year olds found it much easier and quicker this way.

When we were all done, I finished the piece and cut it off the loom. Before cutting, I taped the warp threads down on the back just in case it started to unravel and cut leaving more length for the top. Paper tape comes off easily. The bottom warp yarn was split into three string sections and tied into simple tassels. The top warp yarn was split into sections of three strings as well and tied off, but then I braided three of those together to end up with a number of “ropes” at the top to secure to the branch. It was all just a sort of feel as you go process, so I am sure it can be done a number of ways. In the end, I thought it looked nice to have the thicker ropes to balance the large piece on the branch. I then just tied some yarn to the branch ends that matched the warp threads to become a hanger.

I will let you know how the auction goes (and if I am the winning bidder!) I hope this helps give others ideas for a different sort of auction piece that anyone would love to have brighten up their home!

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Brought to you by Nuffnang and The Disney Junior Channel

To raise readers has been one of my top parenting goals from the very beginning. I don’t think there is ever a time that someone is too young or too old for books. We have been in the routine of reading a bedtime story to our kids practically from their births. Of course reading is not just limited to bedtime, but it is one of our favourite family rituals for winding down the day. Last year, the twins learned how to read and this year they are actually learning to write their own books with a focus on story structure and simple character development. Despite all of this, they still love to be read to. For Australian kids, there is a wonderful locally produced program on The Disney Junior Channel that brings the act of storytelling to life. Premiering Monday August 24th for its second season with episodes airing every weekday evening at 7:10pm (Foxtel channel 709) or available anytime in the story room on the Disney Junior website. “The Book of Once Upon A Time” is hosted by Australian actor, playwright and screenwriter, Kate Mulvany and richly enhances the reading experience past just turning pages with character voices, re-enactment and little bits of animation as well. The first episode features Snow White and the Great Jewel Hunt and you can see it on the website now!. All of these new stories featuring well loved characters are available as e-books from the Disney Story Central app too.

Easy book binding craft for kids

Little imaginations ignite with reading and to indulge their love of hand making things as well as encouraging creative thinking we are going to make our own book and show you how you can as well!

Let’s celebrate Book Week with Disney Junior and “The Book of Once Upon A Time” with this simple book binding method.

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So the kids and I spent a little time in the neighbourhood with a stop at our favourite Cornerstone &  Co. cafe and then a geocaching walk. We were completely unsuccessful finding any caches today, but the real treasure was all around us.

I love photographing our everyday. There is beauty in the mundane. 

   more beautiful photos… click here

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  • Charlie - Lovely. Spring is spring there as fall is falling here.ReplyCancel

Tween Girl

While Gemma is a voracious reader, lately she has been looking to watch more movies. I am pretty open about what she chooses to read because I feel like the picture she creates in her mind is never going to be quite as real as seeing it on a screen with her own eyes. I mean, once they see something graphic, they can’t un-see it. That is why she has read both The Hunger Games and the Divergent series, but has only watched the airplane version of Insurgent as it is edited to remove the really violent bits. She will still happily watch movies with the twins, but I wanted to help her find some new things that are a bit of a step up from kiddie flicks. Gemma’s account on Netflix is not limited to just the kids’ programming. She knows to look at the rating and the descriptions before adding anything to her list and to ask before watching any program she is unsure of. Now, with her interests exploding, it is time to give her a little more control over what she is going to spend her time on. If I ever feel the need to check up on her, I can see what she has watched by just swapping over to her area. That is a great feature, but the main reason I love that we all have our own sections on the one family Netflix account is that the system takes what you watch into consideration and makes recommendations. As it gets to know your preferences, it updates to show more relevant titles. I am discovering things that I want to watch but never knew about!

Tween Girl

We have the Australian version of Netflix and that content is still growing. Not everything that I want her to watch has yet come to our shores, so while we wait for Gilmore Girls to be available here we have compiled a bit of a playlist for Aussie Tween Girls!

TV Shows:
She is not as into TV as she used to be, so there is not much she wanted to see. Here are her top two so far, though.
Good Luck Charlie and Mortified.

Mrs Doubtfire
– Who doesn’t love Robin Williams. This is a great one from my younger years.

A Cinderella Story – This is one of the movies that makes me glad we have our own accounts. 😉

The Princess Bride – It’s her dad’s favourite movie and the twins even quote it.

Hairspray – She is a musicals kind of kid, so this one will be perfect.

Jumanji – It has been a long while since I saw this one, but I thought it would be cool to watch again.

Alice in Wonderland – The art direction alone is worth seeing.

Cheaper By the Dozen – Silly fun.

The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe was a favourite book and it is a beautiful film.

Nanny McPhee– I actually never saw this one back in its day. People love it though.

The Boxcar Children – A cartoon, but more of a mature style reminiscent of the Japanese illustrations she loves.

Rabbit Proof Fence – A hard one to watch, but important.

Babies – A wonderful documentary with a look into the lives of infants around the world.

There is so much more out there and new releases are added often. I haven’t had a lot of time to spend exploring the service, but come September when things settle down again, I am going to really dig in to the Documentaries section for myself!

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  • Goingkookies - Hello,

    Liking the list… a few to add to it if you are keen and if you can find on Netflix:

    1) Matilda
    2) Life is Beautiful 1997 (more for yourself and the husband)
    3) 10 things I hate about you
    4) Sabrina
    5) Flubber
    6) A bug’s life (animation)
    7) The Parent Trap
    8) You’ve got mail
    9) While you were sleeping
    10) Babe
    11) The never ending story
    12) Back to the future
    13) The Mask
    14) The Mighty Ducks
    15) Shirley Temple movies
    16) The Little Rascals 1994
    17) Sister Act
    18) Father of the Bride 1, 2 and 3

    sorry, got a bit carried away listing pretty good movies :)ReplyCancel

    • sesame - I love it! A lot isn’t here yet, but Netflix Australia is building their content every day. Some of these we have as DVDS!ReplyCancel

  • Amelia - Do they have Miyazaki movies on Netflix? I love those. (I’m not a Japanese animation weather with exception to the Miyazaki movies) I showed my younger cousins Howl’s Moving Castle, and they loved it! Even the 8 year old who can’t sit still for tv shows or movies watched the entire movie without asking me when the movie will be over!

    My favourites:
    1. Howl’s moving castle
    2. Princess Mononoke (a bit violent, but it’s about the environment)
    3. Spirited away
    4. Castle in the sky

    Super kid friendly ones:
    my neighbour totoro
    Kiki’s delivery service.ReplyCancel

    • sesame - Kiki’s Delivery Service is a big favourite around here!ReplyCancel

  • Breanne - They might be a little more teen than tween, but you might want to check out the potential of Make It or Break It and Dance Academy (which is actually an Australian show) for her. I loved the Gabby Douglas documentary on Netflix too if you have that one.ReplyCancel

    • sesame - Dance Academy and MI High were on TV here, I forgot to look for the Dance one! She might be really into that one. ReplyCancel

  • Katie - Oh, bummer that Gilmore Girls isn’t available there yet. She’ll probably like it more when she’s a year or two older anyway!

    Hook, Girls Just Want to Have Fun and The Addams Family are on the U.S. Netflix, not sure about Australia. Would she like those? Hugo is pretty good, too.ReplyCancel

  • Tammy Mcilveen via Facebook - From a very similar household, can I add Merlin and Myth Busters (both tv shows)ReplyCancel

  • Dawn Klein - I loved the movie Babies. I think we should rent it again! My kids love Sleepless in Seattle. We’ve also watched An Affair to Remember, which is referenced in Sleepless in Seattle.

    Little Secrets (2001) Emily Lindstrom, 14, is an aspiring concert violinist; she’s spending the summer practicing for a big audition while her girlfriends are at camp. She’s also got a thriving neighborhood business: for 50 cents, she’ll keep your secret. Her mother is very pregnant, and her parents seem more concerned about the new baby than anything Emily cares about. A new family moves in next door; their son, Philip, 12, becomes Emily’s friend. Eventually, the weight of Emily’s secrets – her own, the ones she’s keeping professionally, and a secret Philip tells her, send her life temporarily crashing down.

    Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
    This is the story of Sonora Webster, a teenage runaway during the Depression. Her life’s ambition is to travel to Atlantic City, where “all your dreams come true.” After leaving home she accepts a job from Dr. Carver and his girl-and-horse high diving act. Starting out as a stable hand her goal is to become a real diving girl. Dr. Carver’s son, Al, helps her in her quest by helping her tame a wild horse she’s named Lightning. Their early morning practices lead not only to Sonora being put into training as a diving girl, but also for Al’s emotions for Sonora to begin to surface. Al leaves after an argument with his father and the diver girl, Marie, is injured in a practice. Sonora finally takes her place and becomes a real diving girl. The act is thriving but fairgrounds are suffering hard times and the show is closed. Al comes back with the surprise revelation of getting the act booked in Atlantic City. Dr. Carver passes away en route to New Jersey and Al takes over. He asks Sonora to marry him before her first jump in her dream city. She accepts but then has an accident in the dive that leaves her permanently blind. Al will not let her do the show and brings Marie back to take her place. Sonora does not want to sit on the sidelines anymore and takes matters into her own hands. Practicing all day to finally make it back up the ladder, she has Marie locked in her trailer while she makes the jump to prove to everyone and herself that she can do it and without the audience ever knowing that she is blind.ReplyCancel

Brought to you by Telstra Air and Nuffnang

Thursday night saw Melbourne light up even brighter with beacons of blue lights shooting off the top of pay phone boxes in the CBD. Yes, there are still pay phones and now they are no longer something to show the kids with tales of “back in my day”, they have been transformed into WiFi hotspots. These are not ordinary WiFi hotspots either, they are part of an innovative product called Telstra Air where Telstra broadband customers can connect and draw from their home broadband allowance on the go.

Telstra Air Melbourne by Sesame Ellis

I love the idea of the internet and connectivity creating a connected world in real life. I am also a huge fan of innovation. My family and I have already opted in to Telstra Air (which means our house is a hot spot for anyone else in the system) and here are the top three reasons why.

1) As our kids are getting older, they want to have more freedom…especially the tween! After a frightening few hours last Halloween not knowing where Gemma was and having no way to communicate with her (despite both she and her BFF having their iPad minis with them) we considered getting a phone for the kids to use. While we did not want the extra expense of an additional phone line, she did inherit an old iPhone after her auntie upgraded. I don’t want Gemma to feel like I need to hover over her as we both get used to her growing up and spreading her wings, so this is an awesome development! We have added the Telstra 24×7 app to her phone and know she can get WiFi access and stay in touch with me. She and her friends know that they can go to our house and have a way to get online even if we are not at home!

2) Working from home no longer means having to work from home! As a blogger and photographer who does everything out of my house, I am so excited to be able to pick up my laptop and go work somewhere else. Changing the scenery is sometimes just what I need to get around writers block, focus on work instead of laundry piles or to even simply push through ennui. I collaborate with a few different people and we are constantly sending documents or images to be reviewed. These will no longer be a drain on my meagre mobile data allowance since I can use my much heartier home account on the go via Telstra Air.

3) Traveling overseas is something we do as a family often. Wifi and connectivity is something that we consider when we travel as it is necessary for both our work. As we sometimes travel outside of routine school vacation times, Gemma (and now the twins) need to stay up to date with their classwork on the road. On our last trip, Gemma found a quiet spot of WiFi in the resort to do a video call and participate fully in a class literacy discussion that she did not want to miss. With Telstra Air, you automatically become part of a global network, Fon, that means you have a world of hotspots open to you. Your home internet account just went worldwide.

Telstra Air by Sesame Ellis

You have to be a Telstra Broadband customer to get in on the Telstra Air awesomeness, so if you were on the fence about what provider to go with you should be falling onto the Telstra side with that nudge. New hotspots are being released on a regular basis and the network of connectivity is growing.

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  • Kelly - When we come back to Oz next year, I’m looking into this!ReplyCancel