Monday, July 20, 2015

The Coolest Activity In My First Grade

My students showed amazing tenacity, grit and perseverance this past year with a very simple yet cool activity.  We called it a Thneed.  It is really a simple knitting machine made with an empty toilet paper roll, 4 popsicle sticks and some duct tape.  
     On the first day of school last year my class each made their own thnead.  I used a document camera to illustrate the simple technique of knitting on the machine.  I was lucky enough to have 2 other adults to help with the project on that first day.  After about an hour of building thneads and choosing colored yarn each child was learning how to knit on their own thnead.  We started off slowly.

     I allowed my kids to work on their thneads whenever they were finished their work, when I was reading a story, if we were watching a movie,  and when we went to assemblies.  This activity was amazing at keeping my class focused.  
 This is what they looked like on that first day!  A great start!
It looks like a spider's web if you are are knitting correctly.
Each child chose one ball to start with and worked until they ran out of yarn.  I would then just tie on another ball so they could continue.  The goal was to work until they knitted 10 balls (because 10 is an important number in first grade).  It was amazing to see some kids work hard just to get to the next ball.  
 The kids were so proud of their progress.
 Some kids were amazingly fast at making the long knitted strings.
 After a while the long strings were hard to manage so we used a rubber band to make it easier to manage.  
Then we moved on to an empty square tissue box to manage the long strings.
 At about the 4 week mark in school we shared our project with the school.
 One child made it to 16 balls at 4 was a huge moral booster for my kiddos. 
 Here my class is in January measuring their long strings of knitted yarn.  We laid out the strings and counted the 12 inch squares.  Wonderful math project.
 Here we are counting the squares.
Here are some of the large balls of knitted yarn once the kids got to 10 balls.  We added a tag to each one and dated it.

 Here my class is the last week of school stretching out all of their work.
 This shows my class with all of their yarn stretched out.  They were so proud of their hard work all year.  In the photo you will notice an open area that separates the class from one student.  This child made it to 104 balls.  Which is over 400 feet of knitted yarn.

 The parents in my class were amazing at donating skains of yarn through out the year.  We used different colors that went with different times of the year, like orange in October, and red and green in December.  I spent many an evening rolling balls of yarn to keep this project moving along.  I can't wait to teach a new group of kids how to knit.

Please let me know if you want more details to this project.  There are lots of YouTube videos out there teaching you how to create a thnead.  I think it's called a French knitting machine.  
Happy Knitting!

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