3 Reasons To Try Nature Weaving In Forest School

Square Lashing On A Weaving Loom

Weaving It [Just A Little Bit] In Forest School

Square lashing.

On our first week back at Forest Club we tried some weaving with natural materials in Forest School.   Weaving is one of the oldest craft humans have partaken in.  Weaving has been practiced for millennia in decorative, material and practical uses.

The materials for the session were all natural and found on site.  The focus was on creative expression rather than producing a piece of material as you would with traditional weaving.   I found it helpful to have the looms made ahead of our session, to allow learners the maximum time to weave due to our limited time in an after school club.

The Making Process

To begin with, I spent quite a few hours making the 15 looms I would need.  Having seen a triangular design that would work, I set about sourcing fallen branches and offcuts from home to make the frame.  At the ready was my trusty twine to do the binding and sections of the loom.  Trying to find the best method meant that I used a few variations of square lashing, eventually settled on the following method that yielded a good bond.  I tied a bowline or clove hitch over the lower branch, before square lashing [over and under] around the two branches.  After a few rounds I would then reverse direction and go under over, which resulted in what essentially was a frapping turn.  As a result, it cinched the square lash snugly.  Finally, I tied two knots before trimming the excess with scissors.  Now the looms are ready, here are three good reasons to try nature weaving:

Weaving Is Good For Motor Coordination

Grasping materials and the loom get those small hands working.  Gripping, moving, grabbing and twisting all help to work the muscles in the hand and wrist, helping our learners to improve their motor coordination.  The more that young learners are able to have experience manipulating items like this, the more they will improve their grip strength.  This translates to other physical activities such as holding a pencil, grabbing other items or even climbing a tree.

Weaving Is Good For Practicing Failure

Not every thing that we pick up will fit perfectly into the loom  Each loom had different spacings due to the size of the branch and the number of cross sections.  This was a learning exercise for myself and the learners in making mistakes.  From my first to last loom, the quality of lashing improved dramatically.  I even went back and adjusted some knots on the first frame I made.  Additionally, some looms would benefit from more sections.  This became apparent as learners began to weave the materials they chose.  Finding that they didn’t work as expected, we had a conversation about what we could change.  The learners were then able to go away and choose new materials that worked better for their loom.  Experiencing failure or finding that things don’t work as expected first time round is helpful in building character and resilience.  It provided an opportunity for the learners to reassess their choices and make new ones, hopefully leading them towards success.

Weaving Is Good For Artistic Expression

Art is subjective.  Additionally, when we come to creative expression, we all have our own vision of creativity.  Our weaving activity was an opportunity for our learners to express themselves creatively through choosing the materials, colours and layout.

A sample I made by weaving with natural materials.

Weaving with natural materials.

Weaving with natural materials.

Reflection On Weaving

Having now completed weaving with natural materials in Forest School with learners, I will be much better armed going into a session next time.  The looms are able to be reused in future sessions and all materials are recycled back into the woodlands, helping us to leave no trace.  Below are some of the positives and negatives from the session:

What worked well

  • Learners were able to find materials easily.
  • The looms held together well.
  • My lashing improved as I made more.
  • Really impressed with how some learners embraced this activity.

Areas for improvement 

  • If time had permitted I would probably add more sections to the loom.
  • The size of material chosen by learners was impacted by the spaces between the sections of the loom.
  • Some learners found this activity challenging due to the materials they initially chose.  As a result, they were encouraged to pause, reflect and modify.

If you’d like to see a video of another person doing natural material weaving, check out this video.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can deliver Forest School and weaving in your setting, contact us here.

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