Sunday, August 5, 2012

Education. One first grader at a time!

You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.
Clay P. Bedford

A month or two ago I visited my friend Natalia's first grade class in Bennington, Vermont as a guest speaker. The first question the students had was if I brought a llama or sheep with me. I explained that getting a llama in my Honda Civic may be a little difficult, but I did have a lot to show them and a few fun games to play. 

First we went though some pictures on my Pad of llama, alpaca, sheep, angora rabbits and angora goats (where you get mohair.) I explained to them that fibered animals help keep us warm in the winter and then had them name everything that kept them warm. It was like little lights went off in their minds and they started to put two and two together- they wear wool and so do animals. "Why do we shear the animals in the spring and not the winter?" I asked. They were so excited to say how the animals need their winter clothes too. 

 We also played a little game called guess what type of fiber was in the box. First I explained that wool and mohair have lanolin in it and that wool had a natural curl/crimp to it like some of their hair did and llama and alpaca did not have any lanolin. We went around the class with one box at a time. I told them not to say anything until everyone was done and then they were able to yell out what they thought was the answer. They all did really well with their guess and plus they loved that they were able to yell and not raise their hands. I was impressed how focused they were and how they were little sponges absorbing everything I was explaining. I handed out a little bit of fiber to all of them to take home.

Next we used the hand carders. We talked about how they had to comb their hair and how sometimes we have to comb the fiber too to be able to spin it. Each of the kids got a chance at carding. I held one and they held the other. The kids got a kick out of this. Of course the boys were pulling theirs so hard and throwing themselves all over the room. It became a game of who could throw themselves father but at least they were having fun with fiber. The little girl below really impressed me. She asked if we could mix all of her fibers together! It was so exciting to see a little fiber artist standing in frot of me. 

Finally, working together I taught the kids how to spin. One student held the fiber while the other one twisted it. They were so excited and one kid said he was going to take it home to give to his grandma because she knit. I swear this was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. Plus I got them to sit still for 45 min!! I mean if that's not impressive I don't know what is. Thank you Mrs. Klien's first grade class for having me and making me want to educate that much more! 

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.
Mary Lou Cook

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