Basis For This Lesson:
of Lesson to the Unit, Major Concepts to be Learned:
This lesson will commence our series on
African culture as part of our larger semester-long unit on The Artistry
of World Cultures, as we explore the lifestyles and traditions of various
peoples and their cultures in comparison with our own. Attention is specifically
given to the cultural ancestry of the students in our class as we travel back
to Africa to learn about traditional and contemporary ways of living. We will
begin part 1 of a slide overview of the African continent, highlighting its
amazing diversity, from climate to lifestyle (some slides will be shown today,
the rest in ensuing weeks). We will settle in West Africa as we learn about
traditions of weaving and the fabrication and decoration of cloth for clothing.
Students will explore the aesthetics of
textile design and production as they learn about West African textile industry.
Questions to be answered: What do different people wear? How is their clothing
made? How are cloth and clothes decorated? How are artmakers involved in textile
production? How is this different from the way we do things in the USA, how
is it the same?
Part I, the students will read/view the book, Master Weaver of Ghana,
introducing the people and textile artisans of this area. Part II will allow
time for students to complete their own weavings using a simple cardboard
loom. Weaving designs will reflect personal symbolism through the use of color,
and will be incorporated into a larger project later on.
is important for all children to become aware of the larger world that exists
outside of their own. In addition to enrichment, and for instilling awareness
and pride in cultural identity, broadening the students’ view of our
global world will enable them to become part of the vital process of working
toward understanding and unity through recognition and appreciation for diversity.
It is not possible for the citizens of this new millennium to live in peace
and productivity without each person attaining such a view and attitude. Increasing
awareness of a culture’s aesthetics productions has universal appeal
and can aid in the promotion of this process.
of weaving as a focus is deliberately meant to provide an experience that
is inherently calming and therapeutic, and through actual experience, allows
the students to center, focus and sustain attention to task.
to Lesson/Unit (reflecting NYS standards, & targeted learning areas. See
Abbreviation Key at end):
knowledge and understanding of African culture, particularly of West Coast
countries (Std. # 4, AH, A/C, S)
- Develop greater appreciation
for cultural diversity in lifestyle and aesthetic systems; and for similarity
(e.g., all makers of art use art elements and principles) (Std.
4, AH, AC, AE, S)
- Increase understanding and appreciation
for artisans and artistry of African textile design and production (Std.
3 & 4, AC, AE)
- Develop skill in the art of
weaving (Std. 2, AP)
- Improve cognitive skills: abstract
thinking (symbol), and planning, follow through, problem solving, and memory
recall (Std. 3, AC, AE, A/C)
- Improve perceptual/motor skills:
directionality, fine motor, visual tracking
(Std. 2, AP, P/M)
- Develop personal aesthetic
sensibilities (Std. 1, AE, E)
- Improve attending and participation
skills (Std. 1, AP, W/S, S)
for Observational Assessment (reflecting goals):
will be able to:
- Name at least two features a
- Describe at least one thing
learned about African culture
- Define the term textile
- Name one example of African
textile design (Adinkra, kente, mud cloth, adire eleko)
- Attend to slide presentation
- Name/indicate the warp and weft
threads on a weaving loom
- Finger spin at least five inches
of thread from a cotton boll
- Define the term symbol
- Name/describe at least one personal
quality to represent in weaving, and select at least one color to symbolize
this quality (e.g., I will use red to symbolize my strength)
- Using the plastic needle
and pre-warped loom, create a weaving that:
a. is at least 4 inches long
b. uses at least two different colors, with at least one being the personal
- Cut and tie fringe on completed
weaving with S/Ts’ help
- Recall at least one example
of African textile design/method
- Describe how larger pieces
of cloth for clothing are made in West African culture (individual strips
created are sewn together to create a larger piece of fabric)
- Describe at least one thing
about African culture that s/he admires
Tools Needed For
in age-appropriate, student-friendly language):
a family relative who lived before you; the people from whom you came, descended
- Culture: a
way of life; the way certain people live; the customs, habits and traditions
of a group of people
- Loom: what
we weave on
- Symbol: something
that stands for an idea, like a heart shape for love, or the color red to
mean stop, or the golden arches for McDonalds
- Textile: fabric,
cloth, material clothes can be made from
- Warp: the bottom/vertical
strings of a loom that go on the loom first
- Weft: the horizontal
threads we weave through the warp strings
various weaving examples, a cotton boll with a pre-spun length of thread,
African triangle loom (if possible), culture chart, map of Africa, warp
and weft chart, list of personal qualities chart or handout (see #21 under
- Art Resources:
slides presenting an overview of African culture, ending with a focus on
dress; slides from book, Master Weaver of Ghana by Louise Meyer
(see www.africancraft.com); selection of African artifacts (textiles including
example of kente, Adinkra, adire eleko and mud cloth); CD’s of African
that is woven with symbolic colors and shapes
Adinkra: cloth that is printed with Adinkra symbols,
Adire Eleko: a cloth design created using a cassava
paste resist process
Mud Cloth: cloth printed with design using a mud paste
- boom box and CD of African music
- slide projector, screen, extension
- piece of carded wool
- cotton boll for each (order
- cardboard looms for each (can
be bought or made from corrugated cardboard)
- cotton thread for warp; warp
each loom beforehand, app. 4” wide
- colored yarns for weft
- plastic needle with large eye
- hair pic or comb for each to
beat back each woven line
- masking tape & black markers
for labeling names
- larger loom with wider warp
and weft material for demonstration
(details on procedures from beginning to end with ability-appropriate language
scripted in as necessary):
NOTE: This lesson
will take place over two sessions.
1. African music should be playing
in background during set up.
2. Lead teacher opens with introduction
to new unit, explaining that the world is such an interesting place with so
many different countries and people and cultures. Teacher uses globe to help
students see how many other countries there are in the world, and asks them
if they can name any other countries that they know of.
3. Teacher points out that for
most Americans, our ancestors came to the USA from someplace else in the world.
Teacher defines term, ancestors, and asks where the students ancestors came
from. Does anyone have a relative who came here to the USA from another country?
4. Teacher focuses on continent
of Africa: Does anyone recognize the music we heard before? What place in
the world do you think it might be from? Teacher shows students Africa on
the globe and the maps, focusing on the West Coast area of Ghana and Cote
d’Ivoire, suggesting that we can learn something about the people and
culture of this area of the world, where many of your ancestors came from.
5. Teacher helps students define
the term, culture, using culture chart: Culture is the way that people live,
their habits, their customs, their traditions. Can anyone name something that
is a part of our culture in the USA? (use the chart which lists: food, clothing,
music, art, language, religion, beliefs, holidays, etc.)
6. Teacher suggests we begin to
learn something about African culture by taking a look at some slides that
will show us about the different countries, areas, people, and lifestyles
on this amazing continent (only a small segment is shown today, to be continued
throughout the series). Teacher ends this part of slides with a focus on different
ways that African people dress and why.
7. Following the slides, the teachers
help students to discuss: Where do we get our clothes? Does everyone buy clothes
in a store? Do some people make their own clothes? If so, where do we get
cloth or fabric from to make clothes? Who decorates the fabric? How is an
8. Teacher explains that today,
we will learn about some of the ways that the Akan people of West Africa make
cloth to sew into clothes for themselves, and to sell to others in the market
place. Teacher explains that the business of making and decorating fabric
is called the textile business, and defines the term, textile.
9. Teacher discusses and shows
different examples of African textiles, explaining each piece and how it is
designed and produced: Adinkra, adire eleko, mud cloth, and finishing with
kente cloth. Teacher explains use of indigenous materials, making art and
design materials and tools from nature, the use of cultural symbols (recall
term) in the choice of color and pattern of the cloths, some meanings of the
symbols that have been passed down for generations, who can wear the cloth
and when/why, the idea of talking cloth (oral history and tradition),
10. Teacher focuses on kente cloth
and how it is made? Teacher explains the art and craft of weaving to make
cloth, and how strips of cloth are woven and then sewed together to make a
larger piece of cloth that can then be made into a garment to wear.
11. Teacher then shows selected
slides from the book, Master Weaver of Ghana (optional, depending
on time allocation and students’ attention spans).
12. Following slides, the teacher
explains that to weave cloth, you must start with thread, and asks students:
where do we get thread?
Teacher explains that natural threads all come from nature either in the form
of a plant or animal fur, showing sheep’s wool, and then the cotton.
13. Teacher presents cotton, from
seed to plant to cotton boll, explaining how cotton is grown in these parts
of Africa we are studying because of the climate. Where else is cotton grown?
In the southern USA for many generations. All students are given a cotton
boll to gently handle.
14. Teacher asks students how they
think we can get thread from a cotton boll? What do we have to do with this
fluff of cotton? We have to spin it! What if we don't have a spinning wheel?
How can we do this? Teacher begins to demonstrate finger spinning.
15. Each student can begin to finger
spin from their cotton boll, working around the seeds: hold boll in one hand,
using pinkie and ring finger to hold stem, and middle, index and thumb to
gently hold the fluff, as index and thumb of opposite hand begin to gently
pull out a bit of fluff and start to spin it clockwise by twisting in one
direction only while gently continuing to pull out. Continue pulling and spinning
gently, twisting in the same direction. Students should try to finger spin
at least three inches without breaking thread. If thread breaks, twist back
16. Following finger spinning,
the teacher proceeds to explain weaving, showing the large loom and explaining/demonstrating
how it’s done, defining terms warp and weft, etc. Teacher then asks
a few students to come and demonstrate, assessing for understanding.
17. After this experience, teacher
presents idea of making our own weavings on cardboard looms. Teacher distributes
looms, recalling warp and weft.
18. Teacher explains/demonstrates:
area of loom to work in and where to start (at least 2 1/2 inches from top
so threads can be tied off later); use of yarn, needle, pic/comb to beat back
rows and keep straight; how much yarn to cut to begin with; how to begin a
new color; how to weave weft on a diagonal (then use pic/comb) to keep from
pulling in sides of weaving too tight and distorting shape.
19. Teacher recalls the use of
symbolism in the Kente cloth weavings, and suggests students do the same,
asking them to think of something they would like to symbolize about themselves,
and then choose from our yarn colors accordingly to use in their weavings.
For example, think of a quality you have, or would like to have more of in
yourself, like strength, or speed or bravery or kindness or friendliness or
helpfulness, etc., then choose a color that could represent or symbolize this
quality for you, such as red for strength, or green for generosity (colors
will have highly personal meanings).
S/Ts help students to come up
with ideas using their personal qualities handout lists.
20. S/Ts bring students to table
to select their yarn. Students are given looms, pics and needles, then all
proceed to weave. S/Ts help students to see where they should begin and end
(need at least 2 1/2 inches of warp thread showing at both top and bottom
to tie off piece when finished, so do not start or end close to the top or
bottom of the loom; can mark with piece of masking tape for a visual guide).
Students are encouraged to work in silence, and get into the rhythm of the
NOTE: IF QUIET ENOUGH, PLAY
AFRICAN MUSIC WHILE WEAVING
21. Weaving will carry over into
our second day of this lesson, when students complete their weavings, and
S/Ts will help them tie off/knot ends, making a fringe on bottom by tying
every two threads together. Top is tied off in the same manner.
NOTE: Teacher will start the
second day’s experiences with a brief recall of the culture under
study, and a continuation of the next segment of slides in our overview
of African culture.
22. Finished weavings are labeled
with masking tape, and taped up on board for display and discussion.
23. Teacher has children recall
major terms/concepts: culture, textile, types of African textile designs,
weaving terms, warp and weft.
Students share their weavings, explaining any symbolism they may have used.
25. Teacher explains that we will
use our weavings in another special project as we continue our exploration
of African culture.
OPTIONAL: The weavings can be
embellished by sewing on buttons or bits of bone, or pinning on seed beads.
In addition to observation of the
Performance Objectives described above for evaluating students, as well as
noting what teachers may need to re-teach or do differently, questions to
ask might include:
- Were students able to weave
with a minimum of mistakes in applying their weft threads?
- Are weavings fairly uniform,
with minimal bowing in center? Were students able to control their tools
- To what degree did students
incorporate use off symbolism in their color choices?
NYS Standards for the Arts:
|AH = Art History
||Std. 1 = creating, participating in art
|AC = Art Criticism
||Std. 2 = knowing art materials and processes
|AE = Aesthetics
||Std. 3 = responding to works of art/artists
|AP = Art Production
||Std. 4 = knowing cultural dimensions of art
|Needs Assessment Areas for Developing Skills and Abilities:
|A/C = academic/cognitive
||M/P = motor/perceptual
|| E = emotional
|C = communicative status
||W/S = work/study habits
|| S = social
|Pre-V = prevocational skills
|| L = living skills
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