This lesson provides a visual way to demonstrate the meaning of community, as a tapestry of individuals joined together for a shared experience. It integrates both drawing and weaving, and can also serve as a team-building activity. Students will begin by working on independent drawing projects on strips of paper, and then the team will come together to weave a mat using the strips of paper created by each student.
- Students will be able to illustrate three places that they have felt connected to in their lives and explain why the felt connected to each place (This was what I asked the students to illustrate on their personal strips of paper, but you could alternatively ask them to illustrate something else that reflects them as individuals. I liked this one because it ties in to the Connecting with Place aspect of the Path to Stewardship.).
- Students will be able to explain the meaning of community, and gain a greater sense of how their team is a community.
- Students will be able to communicate positively and inclusively to complete a weaving activity as a team.
- Formative: Facilitate a group discussion with students to gain a sense of what community means to them. Alternatively, you may ask the students to journal about it first and share out to the group. This discussion may include the following questions: What does community mean to you? What does a strong community look/sound/feel like?
- Summative: Facilitate a group discussion around the questions: How have your ideas about community changed or developed after completing this activity? Listen for examples of growth or new ideas since the first assessment.
Age Group: 4th-6th grade
Venue(s): Any space that has enough room for students to spread out and work independently for a portion of the activity.
- One strip of butcher paper for each team member, including instructor and chaperone
- The best way to do this is to start with two large squares of butcher paper, then fold them into the number of sections needed for the number of team members, and cut along the fold lines
- Enough for all students to be working simultaneously
- Large clip boards
- Optional, if there is not a good floor or table space for students to draw
- Clear tape
- Optional, if you choose to tape the mat together at the end
Duration: 60-75 minutes
- Cut strips of paper as described above.
- If you wish, illustrate one of the strips of paper yourself as a model that you can share with students before they begin drawing.
- Bring all materials.
- Since I used this as an introduction to both connecting with place and community, no conceptual preparation was needed.
Using wording that feels natural to you, share with students that we will be completing an art activity as individuals, and later, we will be combining our individual art projects into one mega art project.
- I find it helpful to think of this lesson as having two parts. Part 1 involves the personal art project of illustrating their strip of paper, while Part 2 involves working together as a team to weave their individual projects together into a shared project.
- Explain that each student will receive a strip of paper and markers on which to illustrate three places that they have felt connected to in their lives, or three places that have been important to their life stories.
- If you wish, present your own illustrated piece of paper as a model.
- Hand out paper and markers and give students 10-15 minutes to work independently.
- Once students have completed their illustrations, assign them to groups of ~3 to share what places they drew, and why they chose them.
- Bring the full group back together and ask each student to share something new they learned about another person on the team.
- Explain to the students that, now that we have learned more about everyone as individuals, it’s time to weave all our stories together to create one shared, community piece of art. Explain that the final product will be a visual representation of all of us coming together to form a community this week.
- Use your judgment to determine how much guidance students will need in order to weave. If students have done weaving before, they may be ready to jump in; if not, it may be helpful to give more direction at the beginning. I have generally at least directed half the students to line their papers up parallel to one another, so the other students can weave theirs over and under those. If a greater challenge is desired, have them complete the activity while standing, so the strips of paper are held in their hands, not lying on the ground.
- Treat this as a team building exercise, so encourage students to talk together about strategy and how to complete the activity together. Encourage respectful and positive communication. Let the students take the lead, and only step in as needed.
- Once all strips have been woven into the mat, have students gently lower it to the ground.
Give the group a few moments to appreciate what they just accomplished together. Say something about how our team is comprised of individuals who will come together to create an amazing community this week, and repeat the idea that this mat represents the formation of our community. Some possible debrief questions (in addition to the summative assessment questions above):
- Has this activity given you any new ideas about what community means?
- How did it feel to turn your individual artwork into a shared art project?
Transfer of Learning:
- What are some places where you’re from that you would like to explore or connect with more?
- What ideas do you have about how you can build personal connections with places?
- What lessons did you learn from having to weave a mat with this many other people?
- How can the communication strategies practiced during the weaving activity be used in other situations in your life?
- Community agreement:This could be a nice lead-in to creating a community agreement, either right after this activity, or the next day.
- Path to Stewardship: Since the students will be illustrating places that are important to them, it is a great way to talk about the idea of what it means to connect with place, and can be a good primer for thinking intentionally about connecting with place at IslandWood or elsewhere.
- Weaving: It would be great to follow up later in the week with a lesson on the Coast Salish baskets or a weaving with natural materials art project, as students will feel like they already have a personal connection to the art of weaving.
- Web of Life/concept that everything is connected: Weaving is such a great activity to connect to so many things!
Created by Annie Reading on April 11, 2017.