'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Wooly week

It's been a busy week. I've been relief teaching - sole charge in a small rural school.  I decided to do an integrated unit on 'Fibres', more specifically wool.  
I managed to devise a series of about 20 teaching stations that included maths, poetry, science, geography and arts and crafts.
The kids wove (Soumak, and El ojo de Dios), spun (on a spinning wheel),  made felt balls and jointly created a lovely piece of felted wool and alpaca fibre which we hung on the fence to dry:

They touched different kinds of wool and decided what they'd be good for,  made up poems  about whether they'd rather be a  cashmere goat, angora rabbit or sheep being shorn, and sang "Click Go the Shears", after a lengthy discussion on the meaning of Aussie slang words, including a quick anatomical diversion into the blood circulation system to explain why a sheep might habe described as a 'Blue bellied Joe'.
They watched a DVD about the process of carpet manufacture from sheep to floor, and looked at different fibres under a microscope, drawing what they saw. 

They did a whole lot of calculations about shearing tallies, pay and food consumption of hungry shearers and learnt the meanings of lots of new words like 'crimp', 'scouring', 'weft' and 'luster'. 
They sketched an alpaca, and coloured in a 'jacob' sheep, just for fun giving it all the colours of the rainbow. 
They learnt that there are about 40 million sheep in New Zealand, and that over half of them are Romneys.

They also trained hard  for cross-country running, played cricket, and had a shared soup lunch.
I've loved every minute.


  1. Your teaching in New Zealand is so wonderfully connected to the real world. This sort of integrated thematic curriculum is definitely under attack in the US where results as measured by standardized tests has become the criterion by which schools are judged.

  2. Thank you! Actually it is moving that way here too... This is just me hanging onto real life for dear life! And as a reliever I can get away with it more. I say "would you like me to come in and give the kids a topic-based day so when you are better/back from the conference/ sports day etc., you can just pick up where you left off?" Nine times out of ten they say Yes!

  3. Wow way to teach!!! I love felting with kids. I had a look at the song. I think our Cdn kids would require language lessons in order to sing it!! Too bad you couldn't find the mp3 and embed it. Mind you there is one of these!