Monday, April 15, 2019

Pelle's New Suit Circle, Week 2

This was our second week working with this Circle composed by Nancy Blanning and inspired by Elsa Beskow's classic story, first published in 1890.

We continued with our Songs, Verses & Movement for classroom routines.

Circle Time Introduction


Today we dyed our lovely washed and carded wool from last week!

We loaded three crockpots with natural dyestuffs plus white wool batting, water, and a generous portion of white vinegar. The vinegar is a mordant, which helps the dye to stick to the wool. One crockpot had turmeric root, one had frozen blueberries (wrapped in a piece of cotton fabric tightly tied closed), and one had dandelion flowers. During outdoor playtime the children gathered additional dandelion blossoms to add to that pot. I "cooked" the wool and dyestuff on low for 12 hours, then turned off the crockpots and let the wool stay in the color as it cooled overnight.

The children carefully drew pictures on our signs identifying each dyestuff.

We also continued looking at plants as they grow... a topic of constant fascination in the Springtime. Unfortunately, Zac was too tempted by the sweet baby grasses in our Dish Gardens and kept pulling out shoots in the evenings, so we started an avocado seed in water and a sweet potato in water and placed them on the Nature table to see if they would sprout, and threw plenty of grass seed out onto bare places in the lawn so we could watch the grass grow unimpeded. Sowing grass seed was great fun!


The children were so excited to see the results of our wool dyeing experiments! Even the older children came to see the big reveal. We looked first at the wool the older group dyed in February, with beetroot, and then at the undyed wool to compare its color. Then we opened each crockpot lid and I pulled some of the wool out and placed it in a dish. You could definitely smell the vinegar ("It smells very like a pickle") but it wasn't unpleasant.

The dandelion flowers made an earthy green-brown.

The turmeric root made a strong sunny golden yellow.

The frozen blueberries made a deep rich purple.

The children have loved to continue to card wool, and they also watched me demonstrate how to use a drop spindle to spin wool roving. I showed them how to spin wool by hand by rubbing it back and forth on their legs to get some twist in the fibers, and they really enjoyed that! It is fun to pull and tug on the results and see how much stronger wool is when it has twist in it.


The children spun pieces of our crockpot dyed wool, which was now dry. We went outside to plant the tulips and hyacinths, which I had in pots, from previous stories & activities. After enjoying the digging, the planting, and the sunshine, the children found branches with nice forks in them and I warped them for Branch Weaving. One child, the oldest, really stuck with it. Zac was content to watch. They could use our naturally dyed wool spun into yarn, or any yarn they wanted from my baskets of colors.

Our story was The Lion and the Little Red Bird by Elisa Kleven, a beautiful tie-in with all of our dyeing work. For Easter we will continue our natural dyeing activities with some egg decorating projects.

Today we had mango, strawberries, and blackberries as our Fruit Salad contributions. I also made the Honey Ricotta recipe on page 192 of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook by Toby Amidor to go alongside it. So yummy!

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