Friendship Bracelets

We’ve officially hit the red zone of the school year. Most of the standardized testing is over. Summer is in sight. Five full weeks plus two and a half days. Not that I’m counting.

It is time to pull out those lesson plans to keep little fingers and minds BUSY!

Here is one of my favorites for 4th grade: twistable yarn bracelets. They don’t require braiding, which to some minds (like mine) is as complex as nuclear physics. This project does require a partner and an idea of a friend you might want to give one to. A nice idea to promote, friendship, at a time of the school year when everyone’s nerves are frayed and small spats can turn into big fights in a hurry.

Start with three equal lengths of yarn. I have six foot tables in my room, so for a convenient measuring tool I have them measure their yarn the length of the table. This produces a bracelet that will go around most fourth grade wrists three times.

I usually have them cut the string one day and make the bracelets the next. Cutting string to the right length

Plastic bags with their name on it are great to store the string.
Storage

One person gathers the ends of the yarn so that they are even and ties a knot in that end. How to tie the knot? Wrap the tied yarn around two fingers. Pull it off your fingers, it makes a hole. Put the ends through the hole and pull.

Team work 2 Tying the knot

Hand the other end of the yarn to your partner. They twist one way, while you twist the opposite way. Twist until you feel the tension of the yarn get tight. It won’t twist anymore.

Girl teamwork Hand twist 1

Stop twisting. The person with the knotted end reaches out to the middle of the length of yarn and holds it, while handing their knotted end to their partner. The partner holds both the knotted end and the unknotted end together in one hand. Hold tight.

DSC08387

The other partner releases their end. The strings will twist themselves in a beautiful braid. Magic!

Smooth out any knots by pulling down the length of the braid. I call this “milking the cow”. They never forget this.

Tie the loose ends and the knotted ends together.

Tying them on

Wrap around your friend’s wrist. Open up the twisted end and slip the knotted end through. The left-over braid can hang down or can be tucked under.

Girl wrist

These also make great soft bookmarks, or key chains and I have some students that tie them to their belt loops or in their hair.

Safety Tip: I do not let my students wear these as necklaces. These bracelets are VERY strong and if a child was grabbed by the necklace at a full run,  it would hurt. So I tell my classes if I see these on your neck, I will take it away.

Making Bracelets in the Kingdom of Possums

I spent the day Thursday making hemp bracelets with sixth-graders at camp in Possum Kingdom. Now I know what you are thinking. Possum Kingdom? Two words you usually don’t see together. Remember, this is Texas and we have as big a love affair with weird geographical names as any other state. I work in a city named Mineral Wells, which I get to by driving through Cool, Texas. In the forty-seven miles I drove from Weatherford to get to Camp Grady Spruce, I did not see one possum, but the place itself is a kingdom of sorts. One of the loveliest spots I’ve seen for naturalists and growing kids.

???????????????????????????????
Hell’s Gate
???????????????????????????????
Gathering Place
???????????????????????????????
The View Across from Main Camp

Camp Grady Spruce, nestled in the rugged country around Possum Kingdom Lake, sprawls over 860 acres of hilly, cedar-covered land, right at the edge of Possum Kingdom Lake. In the fifteen years I’ve taught at Travis Elementary, this is my first visit to the camp our sixth-graders attend each year. My loss. It was a wonderful experience. The Camp staff was friendly, attentive to our students needs, and seemed to genuinely enjoy their work with our students. My thanks to them and the parent volunteers who stay with our campers for their patience and enthusiasm.

I would be remiss here to not thank my lovely friend Patsy Medley, one of the office administrative staff at Travis, for this experience. Patsy asked me to fill in for her this year, taught me to make the bracelets, (several times) and provided everything I needed to be ready to teach (including letting me borrow her hand-painted camp T-Shirt). I was there to assist our school nurse, Sharon Huggs, who has for years doubled up taking care of our students’ medical needs at camp with teaching bracelet-making. Thank you too Sharon for putting up with me.

The groups were about fifteen sixth-graders at a time, who rotated through our bracelet making station , along with many other activities, including horse-back riding, archery, God’s Eye-weaving and candle-making. Not being a whiz at weaving of any sort, I was a little nervous about teaching this, but Patsy and Sharon came to the rescue and I think every student had a successful attempt at making a bracelet. Here’s some shots of the action. The last picture is a step-by-step of the bracelet, in case you want to try this with your students.

???????????????????????????????
Our Set-Up
???????????????????????????????
Examples that Patsy Made
???????????????????????????????
Nurse Huggs in Action.
???????????????????????????????
Short Center Strings Taped Down
???????????????????????????????
Concentration
???????????????????????????????
Do you think we have enough beads?
???????????????????????????????
The spiral you want.
???????????????????????????????
Cool Glove

???????????????????????????????