Paper weaving is a simple and inexpensive way to teach young kids the basics of weaving. This can be a tricky skill to teach (and learn) but starting with a few simple tips will help your young artist to be successful!
Why teach weaving….
I’ve taught lots of little people to weave and I will tell you it’s not the easiest skill to teach, especially if you’re in a classroom setting with one adult and many learners. Unlike many art processes there is a right and a wrong and kids can get frustrated easily! Never mind the challenges- it is a worthwhile skill to teach.
Weaving helps kids with fine motor skills, patterning, hand eye coordination, and listening skills.
Choose two colors of paper. Standard 8.5 x 11 is a good size. Colorful, lightweight copy paper or construction paper is perfect for this project. You’ll also need scissors and a glue stick. Paint is optional for the printmaking embellishments.
Take one paper and fold it in half the “hot dog way.” That’s art teacher speak for folding a paper down the middle the long way, making a long skinny rectangle. Show kids how to position their scissor on the fold and cut almost to the open edge. Leave about a a fingers width of paper connected at the bottom of that cut.
Scissors are starting back at that folded edge again. Leave about two fingers width between the first cut and the new cut. Do this all the way from one side of the paper to the other. Making cuts closer together will not hurt anything but it will make the paper more fragile and the weaving more complex. If this is your artists first experience keep the spaces larger to make the process as simple as possible.
After your student is done it will be worth your time to check these cuts. Make sure they all end about the same distance from the edge of the paper.
Weaving paper strips…
The strips you weave will be the width of your paper, approximately 11 inches long in this case and between 1/2″- 1″ long. I recommend providing these strips already cut. If they have jagged edges or aren’t straight edges it can make the process much harder. Eliminate that frustration by providing straight, even strips.
I recommend working with two colors so there is a definite contrast in pattern that kids can see developing as they work. Start with one long strip weaving under, over, under over, each of the white strips.
Push the skinny strip down to the bottom of the weaving. If your artist is having a hard time keeping the strip pushed down add a touch of glue to either end with a glue stick. Grab another strip and begin weaving it in the opposite pattern. If the first strip started under this one should start over. Try to check kids work before they move on. This is where they “get” the patterning. If they haven’t gotten the hang of it yet it helps to catch it before they’ve invested too much time.
Adjust and keep working.
This paper weaving is a pretty straight froward one day project. Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to get fancy with weaving the first time around. Think simple. Future weavings could use multiple colors, curvy lines, and additional materials. The possibilities are endless.
To jazz up these simple paper weavings consider printmaking to further the idea of patterning. Check out this post on found object printmaking for some ideas about how to add more pattern and color to these simple paper weavings.