Expressive Arts & Design

Weaving: a fun, flexible activity for preschoolers

Weaving is a fun, flexible and creative activity for children. Not enough preschoolers are exposed to this simple pastime, which helps to build vital skills that will support development through their early years. The basic skill of weaving will help a child to improve their fine manipulative skills and dexterity. Weaving strengthens the hand muscles and enhances hand and eye coordination.

Whatever the weather, this is a cost-free activity that can not only build creative expression but also foster an appreciation of nature. Best of all, when you complete this activity together, you and your grandchild will have a little work of art to appreciate! 

If a young child has never done any weaving, you should demonstrate it and support them closely at the start of the activity. Let the child make the choices and decisions while you stay on hand to make the activity possible. Keep it simple: at Daisy’s age (three), as she learns the technique of weaving, the language is more of “in and out” rather than “over one and under two,” or other complex weaving patterns. For a very young child, the pure pleasure of weaving comes from exploring the processes rather than completing what an adult would perceive as a ‘finished’ piece of work. 

Weave with lolly sticks, feathers or flowers
What should you use as weaving materials? Some readers may recall completing simple weaving projects during their childhood (perhaps creating narrow strips of fabric or woven paper patterns of weaving) but remember that there are lots of options, depending on your location and the season. Both you and your grandchild should let your imaginations roam!

For example, summer is the perfect time to wander the garden with a basket, collecting blades of grasses, stems, leaves, flower heads and pieces of grown-up pruning. In Autumn the options are no less interesting – why not experiment with dried leaves, feathers or twigs?

In fact, young children will enjoy trying to weave with anything that is available around them. If you’re stuck indoors for any reason, then gather items such as lolly sticks, leaves, ribbons, straws or even pieces of (clean) packaging. The only limitations arise if a piece is too bulky for the loom, but that’s part of the fun; your child will discover these qualities as she learns to weave.

Daisy in the frame
Daisy recently received a weaving frame, which Mummy threaded for her. After a successful trip around the garden in the sunshine, Mummy and Daisy spread out their collection of plant pieces chosen for the activity. Mummy encouraged Daisy to push each piece of material in between the threading on the weaving frame. Daisy was able to experiment with different plants, and Mummy helped her to fill up the frame.

As they worked on the weaving, Mummy and Daisy talked about the colours of the flowers, stems, and leaves, and even the names of flowers – this will help Daisy gradually develop her understanding of the natural world just outside her back door.

Daisy’s robust wooden weaving frame is from Yellow Door, and is available in a variety of shapes and sizes. (There is also a short film demonstrating weaving with this product). However, you can easily create your own simple weaving frame at home using leftover cardboard packaging (an empty cereal box is ideal). You can use a variety of threads on the frame, such as narrow ribbons, different thicknesses of knitting yarn or string/twine. The frame can be threaded up in a random configuration or you can use a more linear design; confident children can help with this process too. 

A homemade weaving frame made from cardboard and green twine

If you want to take a more advanced approach, then for older children you could use twigs and garden pea sticks for impromptu outdoor weaving opportunities. You can even use garden canes to create large pyramid-shaped weaving frames – the possibilities are endless!

Granny Smith says

  • Weaving is a perfect way for children to find out about colours, textures and patterns.
  • Each time a child does some weaving, the design will be unique and they will start to notice as patterns emerge.
  • It can be helpful to take a photograph of the finished frame, so that your grandchild has a record of their work, and so that your frame can be reused
  • Most Early Years activities can be adapted to be completed outdoors, as well as indoors; the key is having the right outfit for the season. During the summer, be sure to find some shade to set up activities and make sure that children have sun cream applied (with an SPF of 50) and are wearing sun hats.

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