April 24, 2023 | Clara Buckley
At this time of year, students are in the flow. They know how to use many art materials and they’re confident in their abilities. It’s time for a big challenge!
For fourth and fifth grade, the challenge is to create a beaded weaving using the technique of the Plains Indians.
In preparation for this project students viewed beadwork at the National Museum of the American Indian on our field trip. We discussed the symbolism of jewelry in different cultures and different time periods. We thought about the materials used in beaded weaving and how the introduction of glass beads by European colonists in the mid eighteen hundreds changed the style. Students ideas are informed by knowledge from their recent STEAM study of native peoples and the geography of America. These conversations meet one of our Visual Arts Standards: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding.
Students create several patterns and choose their favorite. Learning this weaving technique is a challenge. At the start, a student may complete only one or two rows per class. With perseverance, their hands become swifter as they master the technique and improve their craftsmanship. The feeling of accomplishment is high!
This project is one of the students’ favorites with older middle schoolers and even graduates remembering it fondly and displaying their finished weaving at home.