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Sheep to Sweaters

Students investigate how sheep fleece is turned into wool yarn by hand, then show what they know in a 3-D shadowbox.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Pose the question to students: Did you know that sheep were the first animals to be domesticated by humans? Think about the things that sheep provide for people--wool, meat, and milk. What do people provide to sheep?
    2. There are many steps between touching a woolly sheep and wearing a cozy sweater. Organize students into small groups to research how people converted raw wool into sweaters before they used today's machines. If possible, visit an historic site that does sheep shearing to see the process first hand.
    3. Ask students to cover their workspace with recycled newspaper. Students select a recycled box or cardboard platform on which to create a 3-D diorama of this historic procedure for making clothing. With Crayola® Washable Paint, Paint Brushes, and Crayola Washable Markers, children create a landscape of the environment in which sheep live and graze such as mountains, hills, or farms.
    4. Suggest students use large cotton balls to make sheep. If you wish to have sheep with black or brown fleece, color cotton balls with markers. Fashion sheep legs and heads using twigs, or use Crayola Scissors to cut chenille sticks. Use Crayola School Glue to hold sheep together.
    5. Remind students to include in their displays the tools used in the sheep shearing and wool preparation process. Encourage the drawing or construction of these items using collage or recycled materials.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

    MATH: Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

    SCI: Construct explanations of how structures in animals serve functions of growth, survival, reproduction, and behavior.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep: A Yarn About Wool by Teri Sloat; Weaving the Rainbow by George Ella Lyon; The Goat in the Rug by Charles L. Blood & Martin Link; Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie dePaola

    Organize a field trip to a sheep farm for students. Prior to the trip, students compose questions for the farmer. After the trip, student post learning to a class blog.

    Invite a knitter or weaver to visit the class and demonstrate carding, spinning, and/or weaving. Allow time in the visit for students to explore the process with the expert. After the meeting, students post learning to a class blog.

    There are tiny hooks in wood fibers that lock together, much like Velcro™ which is one reason why wool is a valuable fiber. Purchase enough raw wood to provide each student in the class with a small amount. Allow time during this lesson for students to manipulate the wool fibers and test the strength of the wool fibers.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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