Every cloud has a furry lining
Lorraine Frankish looks at the fabric of early years teaching with textiles
Each of these five textile packs is crammed with bright and useful goodies. The collections aim to provide activities based on the use of textiles in early learning and to highlight cross-curriculum links. The rationale is that textiles can be a useful context from which pupils can develop and apply knowledge and skills related to the whole curriculum.
The five sturdy, numbered boxes can be used individually with groups of around 20, although it is suggested that they should be approached in order, to ensure maximum progression of learning. There are laminated sheets with teachers' notes giving curriculum references and instructions for suggested activities.
The first pack, called Look, Touch, Talk: Handling Materials, aims to develop children's senses. It contains an excellent assortment of textures - spread them out and allow time for exploration. One class found many ways to play with the fabrics - including making beards and clouds from fur. The materials were particularly beneficial for a child with visual impairment who enjoyed feeling the different textures.
In the second pack, Shapes and Sparkle: Joining Fabric, children have the choice of using two textures of fabric - net and hessian - in various colours. There are greeting-card templates with envelopes, sequins, beads, buttons and brightly-dyed feathers. Needles, thread and clear instructions about making cards are included.
The pack helps with visual and tactile perception and developing skills in using fabrics. There are plenty of opportunities for discussion and decision-making too.
There are similar outcomes with the third pack, Making Marks: First Stitches, although it offers different activities and contents. It enables children to see work from the design stage through to a completed embroidered picture.
Weaving: Making Fabrics aims to foster understanding and recognition of images and artefacts as sources of ideas for their work. With this pack children are encouraged to use a variety of materials not included, such as paper, and strips of fabric to add individuality to their weave.
Three Dimensional Objects: Ugly Bugs and Fearsome Creatures offers a novel way of making three-dimensional models. This pack contains pipe cleaners, modelling balls, sequins, pompoms, toy eyes and feathers. The children were able to make a fabulous menagerie of creatures with these without too much adult help.
All five packs are a treat for teachers and a delight for young children. All of the materials will be familiar to primary school and nursery staff, but with the teachers notes and guidelines thrown in you are ready for action. It's rather like paying a bit more for ready-made meals.
* Lorraine Frankish is early years co-ordinator at Casterton Community College, Rutland
* Step by Step, Lavenham Road, Yate, Bristol BS17 5QX. Tel: 01454 320200. Stand EY26