Our good friend Rebecca Dunn is back on the Library as Incubator Project with another great post in her popular Pages to Projects series! She shares how to incorporate elements of art education and appreciation into storytime; if you’ve been inspired by Rebecca’s projects or have used her storytime plans at your library, we’d love to hear about it!  Share your experience in the comments. ~Erinn

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by Rebecca Dunn

Are you familiar with yarn bombing? If not, a quick search on the web will give you a visual idea. It’s when a person or a group of people personalize a public space by knitting or crocheting to decorate an object or objects. The goal behind yarn bombing varies, but for the most part it is used to create an art installation and to make people smile.

Which leads me to this next question: Got yarn?

I don’t know about you, but I always seem to accumulate yarn for various craft projects. A box of fuzzy, bright colors sits idly on a shelf just waiting to be used. Well, now is the time to get that box down and put it to good use.

Extra Yarn, this year’s Caldecott Honor winning picture book by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen, is a delightful way to show children that the ordinary can transform into the extraordinary. All you need is an open mind. Young Annabelle comes across a box of yarn filled with every color, so she does what anyone might do with yarn – she knits a sweater. Soon enough she is knitting a sweater for her dog, her class, everyone in town, and things that don’t even need sweaters. The yarn never seems to run out. Annabelle and her yarn quickly transform her cold little town into an array of colors, but an Archduke threatens to take it all away.

Sometimes it just takes some extra yarn to change the way we see things. You can even turn a regular old stick into a magic wand.

Today’s complementary project to Extra Yarn is making yarn wands. By utilizing yarn paired with an everyday item, in this case sticks, yarn wands lend the opportunity to tune up those fine motor skills, exercise creative construction with mixed media items, as well as promote play and storytelling. Better yet, it’s a low maintenance, low budget storytime craft.

Materials:

  • Yarn
  • Sticks (for little preschool hands, no bigger than a ruler)
  • Scissors
  • School Glue

How to Make a Yarn Wand:

  1. Survey sticks collected. Make sure they are clean and do not have rough edges.
  2. Pre-cut the yarn into various lengths. (Mine were anywhere from 1-3 feet in length.)
  3. Allow kids to select sticks and yarn.
  4. Glue is optional. Gluing the end of the yarn strand to the stick will help keep it from fraying especially if more than one piece of string is used, but it isn’t necessary.

I want to emphasize that one’s wand does not need to be neatly wrapped. The child can wrap it in whichever way they choose. Remind them that it is their own creation and it can be whatever they want it to be. It’s about the process, not the product. I’ve included a picture of my 3-year old’s wand. I would also like to add that she played with her wand for the next several days after making it. She told stories with it, took it outside for a walk, and really took her experience with the wand beyond the storytime and project construction.

[My 3-year-old] played with her wand for the next several days after making it. She told stories with it, took it outside for a walk, and really took her experience with the wand beyond the storytime and project construction.

yarn wand example

Bonus Project:

The storytimes I conduct at Lawrence Public Library are “library storytimes,” which means I have ages anywhere from as young as 2 and up to 8-years-old. If you have older kids in your group, invite them to take their yarn wrappings one step further and construct a mobile.

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Yarn Stick Mobile:

  1. Follow the instructions above for making yarn wands.
  2. Using a piece of string, tie the string to each end of a yarn wand.
  3. Loop another piece of string through the yarn wand from step two, and tie the ends to another yarn wand.
  4. Repeat until you have the desired amount of tiers for the yarn stick mobile.

Whether it’s full-blown guerilla yarn bombing or the act of a child transforming a stick into a wand, a little extra yarn goes a long way to add a bit of magic into the world. Just ask Annabelle from Extra Yarn.

Check out similar yarn-inspired books:

 

Want More?

IMG_2347Rebecca Zarazan Dunn is a Youth Services Librarian Assistant for the Lawrence Public Library, and was recently named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker for 2013.  When she’s not at the library or running after her 3-year old daughter, she is most often found at her blog home, Sturdy for Common Things, where she writes about books, library programs, and living the simple life in Lawrence, Kansas.

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