Weaving on a Loom

LESSON TITLE: Weaving, Early People Follow Up
TEACHER NAME: Jennifer November
GRADE LEVEL: 4th – 6th
CLASS TIME: _45_Minutes _1_Days/week _1_# Session(s)
SUBJECTS COVERED –History and process of Making cloth


  • Students will understand the concept of pre-planning a project.
  • Students will demonstrate following instructions.
  • Students will build a textile weaving with one simple design.
  • Students will demonstrate time management in the classroom to finish the project.


  1. Loom
  2. Two colors of yarn
  3. Comb
  4. Flatten wooden paint stir or ruler
  5. Scissors
  6. Masking tape
  7. White paper the size of the loom or slightly larger
  8. Popsicle sticks (3-4)



Pre-planning – a way of mapping out goals and intentions for one project, without forgetting the initial goal of the work.

Beater – the frame that holds the reed. On a jack loom it is bottom-mounted and stable. On a countermarch loom it is top-mounted and swings freely.

Draft – a diagram that represents a woven pattern.

Loom waste – the length of warp threads in the front and back that are not woven.

Pusher – flat piece of wood used to push the new yarn to the flush position to help create the finished project.

Reed – a steel comb (usually a plastic comb on a rigid heddle loom) that separates the warp threads at the correct density for the warp width.

Shuttle – the tool that holds the yarn. Some types of shuttles include stick shuttles, boat shuttles, and end feed shuttles.

Warping – dressing the loom in preparation for weaving.



Students will be in small groups such as 2-6. Students should be in clear view of the instructor to follow step by step instructions. Each student needs to have enough space for their loom, yarn, and materials. They can be sitting on the floor or at large tables.



This lesson is a great set-up lesson for any project which you feel needs pre-planning. Students are to follow written instructions leading them to a proper direction. This can be combined with a lesson on early people and how they made clothes. We began with setting up our loom.  With some demonstration I showed them how to take the spools of yarn and wrap them into neat balls of yarn. This is done to prevent any knots in the spool later on.  Students were to choose two colors of yarn, one for the background color and one for their design color. Next they needed to choose a simple design, such as their initials, or a simple geometric shape i.e. a square, or rectangles. They were given a large piece of paper and were instructed to trace the inside and outside of the loom on to the paper. From there I had them cut off the excess paper so it fit behind the loom. They then drew on their design, they were instructed not to make their design any thinner than one inch. This was mostly for the students to have a more successful design, rather than something that may be too skinny and hard to follow. Once the design was finished they taped it onto the frame of the loom so while they work they can follow the drawing of their design. Next we wrapped the popsicle sticks, or shuttles as we referred to them, with our background color. Then we added the background color yarn to the reed of the loom and tied off the ends.

Once our loom was set up the students could begin working. Each student would start off in the same manner. We would use the ruler or paint stir as our pusher. The student would weave the pusher through every other stand of yarn until the whole piece was through. They would then turn it up on its side, perpendicular to the loom. This would lift half of the yarn up making it possible to get the shuttle through. Students would add their layer of yarn, remove the pusher and use the plastic comb as a second from of a reed to evenly bring down the new layer. Students would repeat this action until they reached their design on the paper behind. They were told they will receive the next instructions once they reached their design.

Reaching the design students would return to me and show me their progress. When they successfully reached their design I would show them what to do next. We were now working with two colors. The background color would be first. Students added the pusher as they would normally. Next instead of putting the yarn through the center, they would add the yarn up till the design where the background color would now go through the yarn and behind the piece until the design stopped and then the yarn would come back up through the center of the separated threads. Next the design color would come through. Except it would start out behind the weaving, and come up through the separated threads where the background color stopped. It would go through the center and come back behind the design where the background color started up again. The pusher was then removed and the two threads were combed down together creating the beginning of the design.

Each student was allowed 20 minutes of class time to work, and a half hour of quite hand work to work on their weaving. Allowing for up to 50 minutes a day to work on the project. Students were expected to finished the project in no more than 3 weeks.


I had two ambitious students who joined this lesson. Student A is a 5th grade female who loves art, soccer and math. She was very excited to join the lesson and had already planned out her challenging design.

She choose dark blue as her background color and yellow as her design color. She decided that she would create a design of a fish, something she wanted to make into a pillow later on.

I had repeated to her the challenging aspects of working with a curvy design. Since this is our first time weaving together I was concerned with the success of the design. But she was confidant in what she was doing and I did not want to discourage this. She began with a shuttle that was wrapped by a student who had already finished the project. She held up the yarn to me and asked if I thought there was enough yarn to begin with and add on as the background when we first set up the loom. I told her I didn’t think there was enough yarn to last the whole reed of the loom set up. But she wanted to try it anyway. She was very close to reaching the end of the loom set up when she ran out of yarn. Disappointed in this she asked me what she should do, wondering if there was a way to finish setting up the reed with out starting over. After a little bit of discussion she agreed she needed to start again. After her loom was set up, she then picked up the full ball of yarn and began wrapping the reeds with it and was able to set up her background.

We then went over how to use the pusher to weave through the yarn and then to use the shuttle to get the background color through. Once she got the hang of using the pusher and shuttle for the background she diligently worked on the weaving. She was one of the few students who worked on the weaving the full 50 minutes each day. She reached her design in three days. Once she reached her design I once again informed her of the difficultly of the design she choose and told her to be patient with her design, to take her time. I explained to her that with a curvy design there was no one side to another to follow. What she needed to do was carefully follow the design she created. She would need to look down through the top of the background color to the drawn design on the paper behind and follow the pencil lines. So each time she would add a new layer she would need to add it to the piece of yarn that was directly over line drawn. Since she had already shown how hard she was willing to work on the project I allowed her to keep working in this fashion. She would check in with me each day as she made progress and would ask my opinion on how she was doing. I would respond with, “How do you think you’re doing?” She would give me an honest answer, and on a few occasions we sat down together to take out some layers so she could make adjustments. She worked for another week and a half each day for 50 minutes until she finished her entire project. Her finishing the project in under 3 weeks inspired other students to work more on the weaving, seeing that it was in fact possible to finish the whole project in the class time allowed. She did create her fish and it came out looking like one. She later worked with her Aunt who helped her turn it into the pillow she wanted.


Student B is a 5th grade boy who loves art, animals and being outside in nature. He was in my first group of students to take the lesson and had expressed his interest in the project and its process. He followed my directions exactly. He choose off white and grey for his colors and his initials as his design. He used a ruler to create his design and kept the letters exactly one inch thick. His graphical letters made for a much more appropriate level of difficulty for this project. He began with rolling the spool of yarn into a neat ball. He drew out his design and spent a little bit of time on it to make sure it was just right, making several corrections in the process. Once he taped on his design we worked on getting the yarn on the loom. He made tight ties and began adding his back ground color. He worked for about 20 minutes a day making slow, but steady progress.

After about two weeks he reached his design. He came to me for the instruction on the design. I explained to him that the design color must not be on the same weaving plane as the background color. So he began with wrapping the design color over the top of the weaving rather than through the center and behind. He came to me with his design wrapped in that manner and was confused as to why his was looking different from the others. I explained to him that when the yarn is wrapped above the piece that it creates this bubble type of effect and will even change the structure of the weaving. By wrapping the yarn it pulls the design space in closer and away from the rest of the weaving, creating large holes through the project. We went back in the weaving and worked together for a few layers until he showed me mastery of this skill. He was excited when he began making visible progress and this motivation lasted about a week as he stated to use the full 50 minutes of class time through out the week. This inspired several other boys in the classroom to work on a weaving of their own. His motivation kept him working at a steady pace, and in about two more weeks he finished his project. We added a wooden pusher at the top of the piece and turned it into a wall hanging. He was very excited about finishing his project.



Please use the attached rubric to view specifics on how each student was assessed.

Student A.

Student A worked very hard on her project. She showed optimal performance on her pre-planning. She showed optimal performance on her ability to follow instructions. She showed something in between good effort and poor execution on her design, because she choose a design  with curves, somewhat deviating from the original instruction. However she showed optimal performance on her time management. Which despite the challenges she faced, she was still able to finish the project very quickly.


Student B.

Student B worked hard on his design and the initial start to his project. He showed good effort on his pre-planning. He showed good effort on his ability to follow instructions. He showed optimal performance on building his textile and good effort on his time management. He was thoughtful and worked hard over the course of five weeks.


When both students had finished their project they instantly became my weaving mentors. Tis was great for my other students in the classroom to turn to when they needed some help. These students had both expressed their interest in helping teach the lessons to new learners. It was helpful to have them both available to mentor their classmates.


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