I like to start my first summer art class with a project that is engaging and unique. Last summer it was mosaics, the year before that musical instruments made out of clean garbage and the year before that was gluey string bowls. This year was no different and I was searching for an idea that was special. A former student of mine who is in the 5th grade suggested Dreamcatchers. Native Americans have used Dreamcatchers since ancient times. They believed that the Dreamcatcher kept bad dreams away and gave the sleeper a good night sleep. The Dreamcatcher is hung above the bed and the bad dreams get caught in the web like design around the hoop and the good dreams went through the hole in the center and slide down the feathers. In the Native American culture the Dreamcatcher's circular shape symbolizes unity and strength.
I knew this project would not be easy for my Middle School aged students so I broke it down into two main components. On the first day the students used hemp cord (any color they liked) to cover the wire hoop I gave them. They held down the hemp on the wire hoop with one hand while their other hand wound the cord tightly around and around until the wire was completely covered. On the second day they began creating the web like design using a simple stitching process using yarn that they looped around the hemp covered wire. Before each class I showed my students a how-to video on my computer so they could see the technique we would be using next. I also taught and retaught the process as needed. This is a fun project but good fine motor skills and patience is required. I think the results are spectacular. Each completed Dreamcatcher is unique and even the ones that have some irregularities (in the stitching) have a lot of personality.
Learn how to make your own dreamcatcher at: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Dreamcatcher