Sunday, September 1, 2019

Picnic & Play: How a Shirt Grew in the Field

I discovered this lovely book (written by Konstantin Ushinsky, adapted from the Russian by Marguerita Rudolph) upon the recommendation of a fellow Handwork teacher, Shan Kendall from Yuba River Charter School. It is called How a Shirt Grew in the Field and it perfectly explains the story of flax/linen.

I didn't have this story last school year when we did our Fibers & Clothing block (a classic Waldorf 3rd grade block), so we used a resource from Jean Henri Fabre. Becca did plant flaxseed successfully and I've loved watching it grow! Doing this story for Picnic & Play was a great way to share a new book with my group, and for us to celebrate this amazing plant. Right now it has the prettiest delicate blue flowers on it!

I learned from the living history woman at the 240th Anniversary of the Storming of Stony Point in New York that flax has very weak stems and will only stand up if it is sowed very thickly or if it is grown next to something else. That explains why my plants are all in a tangle!

There are lots of steps in processing flax, so we can't possibly do all of them in a weekend...

The Big Book of Flax:
A Compendium of Facts, Art, Lore, Projects and Song

by Christian and Johannes Zinzendorf

But Zac did get to use a flax break when we were at Stony Point in July, so we are gradually learning more about the steps involved.

We did Circle Time and then followed it with different activities each day. This weekend we focused on the plant on Saturday and the fiber on Sunday.

Circle Time

Saturday, August 31

After reading the story, we went outside to look at the flax plants. Some still had delicate pale blue flowers; many had little green or golden brown bolls (the dried seed heads). This plant is so pretty!!!

We came back inside and looked at flax seeds from the grocery store and prepared some for germination so that the children could see that there really was a baby plant hiding inside that seed. Simply wet and then wring out a paper towel, lay it down, place some seeds on the center of it, fold it in half, put it in a sandwich or quart Ziploc bag and zip it shut. Place on your Nature table or in a warm sunny spot. Every few days, take out the paper towel and open it up and take a peek! This works well with lots of things from your cupboard (wheat berries, dried beans, flax and chia seeds, etc.).

Then we did watercolor paintings of the flowers, first putting down golden yellow on our paper for the sunlight, then adding the blue flowers, and then seeing how the yellow and blue mixed to make the green stems and leaves of the plant.

Sunday, September 1

Zac was feeling a little under the weather today so we didn't do a formal Picnic & Play, but he still wanted to read the story again so we did. Afterwards we felt some flax top and my Glimakra linen rug warp (which are both rough) and a linen handkerchief and vintage linen sheet (which are both soft and smooth) and we did some weaving on the tapestry loom.

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