The students in Chris Simmons’ kindergarten class took part in special presentations on how thread and rope are made to cap off a lesson about animals and the various ways people use animal products, Simmons said.
“Today, we’re culminating what we learned about what we get from [animals],” she said.
A few hundred years ago, clothing stores and fabric stores didn’t exist — people made their outfits at home, parent Anita Hightower explained to the youngsters.
“You had to make your own fabric, and before you made your fabric, you had to make your thread,” she said.
Hightower then passed out small bunches of sheep’s fleece to the students, and they practiced making yarn by hand, just by twisting and pulling the material at the same time.
But that process was very slow, she explained, so people invented machines, like spinning wheels, to speed up the process.
Hightower had brought in her two pedal-powered spinning wheels, and she showed the students how the machines twisted the fleece over and over to create yarn.
“By twisting it, we can make it into a strong thread,” she said.
Simmons pointed out the technique that went into the work.
“She has to coordinate her feet and her fingers and her hand,” Simmons said.
Each student got to try operating the spinning wheel for a few moments.
“That goes really fast,” said Lauren Peplow, 5, pointing to the whirring bobbin where the yarn was collecting.
The class also talked about other animals that could be used to make clothes, from camels to llamas to rabbits, and plants that were used, from cotton to flax to bamboo.
Lillian Cho, 5, was particularly partial to the silkworm.
She shook a cocoon and heard the dead silkworm rattling around inside.
“Those are dead. Oh, poor silkworm,” she said.
Outside, Glenn Hightower showed the students how to make rope by twisting four lines of string together.
“Hands-on learning, that’s what it’s all about,” Simmons said.