● By Steven Hoffman
Penn London Elementary School art teacher Jo-ann Shiley couldn’t have been happier about how excited the students were when they recently got to learn about using yarn in art projects.
Second-graders learned how to finger knit. First-graders made dreamcatchers and kindergarteners were taught how to weave paper plates. The impressive—and colorful—results have been displayed at the school’s courtyard, with about 12 trees wrapped with yarn that the second-graders finger knit. Weavings of Popsicle sticks and yarn made by the kindergarteners were hung from the porch’s edge.
During the project, one student wondered aloud whether the fondness for working with yarn might limit the amount of time spent watching television, while a school bus driver told Shiley that the bus has never been quieter since the students started working with the yarn.
“We all think of knitting and working with fibers as being an adult activity,” Shiley explained, “but here the kids are doing it.”
Carol Maurer served as the artist-in-residence and worked closely with the students on their projects. Maurer is a studio artist at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts. She and Shiley both marveled at the enthusiasm that the students had for working with yarn. The youngsters were all teaching their friends what they learned.
“It was a great hands-on project,” Shiley said. “It turned out to be ten times more beautiful than I thought, and they had a real joy of working with the yarn.”