As part of our Guatemala Unit Study, I wanted to do an activity that focused on weaving which is a major part of the traditional Mayan culture. When I visited the countryside of Guatemala in 1999, I saw many woman outside their simple homes weaving beautiful fabric.
Guatemalan woman weave beautiful textiles characterized by bright, vivid colors and patterns. Originally their fabric was created from local plant fibers, but now are most often made with cotton or wool.
There are many fun ways to teach kiddos the basics of weaving, but I fell in love with paper plate weaving because it was unique and it uses paper plates (I love toilet paper tube and paper plate crafts, haha).
You will first need a paper plate (I used a couple of the thinner ones to make the “loom” stiffer. If you have a thicker/sturdier plate you can use just one), some string and some “weaving material” – I used ribbon as I have a ton laying around from various projects. I’ve also seen people use colored bits of yarn or fabric strips; get creative with whatever you have available!
I cut notches into the plate in halves, quarters, etc. If I did this again, I would recommend doing an odd number of notches so that you don’t have to switch up versus down as you weave. I would also have made more notches because as we wove, the “loom strings” became farther apart. But for the purpose of this activity and my four-year-old’s attention and the baby getting into the ribbon, it was more than adequate.
I tied the first color to the center and started weaving it around and around. I used 18 inch lengths, so that we could change up the colors as we wove so we had a colorful design. My four year old caught on pretty quickly. My two year old ripped her loom in half almost immediately and then threw a fit because it was in pieces. But she got over it and then worked on unrolling all the ribbon… Soooo, this activity may be better for preschool/kindergarten and older.
As you can see, my oldest had to focus on wrapping the ribbon above and below the black string. Because I had an even number of strings, I had to have her switch it (so weaving below or above two strands) so that the weaving would be offset.
She kept going around and around until we have quite the pattern. The baby kept trying to help, but honestly was more focused on unrolling the ribbon, haha
Before long we had quite a pretty design! I love how this activity promotes creativity and fine motor skills. It was also fun to talk about traditional skills/crafts from the Mayan/Guatemalan culture.
Tada! My oldest said she was done, and I don’t blame her, as the sister was becoming quite a distraction. I told her she did a very nice job. She told me that it was a hot mat for a very small pot. 🙂
If we had more lines as mentioned earlier, the spaces between each weave would be tighter and would look better as our weave got wider. There is a lot of options to really become creative with this activity!