Show Your Colors and Make Freedom Bracelets

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This activity will teach you how to make a bracelet using a simple loom. The following is some background information about the project and why we ask that you make lots of bracelets and share them with your friends.

Finished productOn Tuesday, September 11, 2001, terrorists caused thousands of people to die, and they destroyed property in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. Terrorists are very bad people who try to gain power by disrupting others' lives.

Perhaps you've never heard the word "terrorist" before, and you're probably confused as to why someone would want to hurt innocent people. A terrorist doesn't believe in talking about problems to find solutions. Instead, he tries to get his way by frightening and hurting others.

You may know someone at school who tries to control people by scaring them. The schoolyard bully often threatens other kids if they don't do what he wants. Maybe he asks them for money or things that are special like certain toys, but sometimes he acts that way just to feel big and powerful.

If you saw the brave rescue workers on television or you know someone who helped during the disasters in New York and Washington, you may have wished you could be there to assist. Of course, that wasn't possible. At times like this, we're helpless and scared, but there are things we can do to feel better.

It's important that you talk to other people, especially your parents and teachers, about your fears. They'll answer your questions and keep you safe. Something else you can do is draw a picture or write thank you notes and send them to the brave firefighters and police who rescued people from the buildings.

As caring and responsible citizens of the United States and the world, it's important that we support each other at this sad time. One way to do that is to "show your colors." Many people display American flags, but you can wear the red, white, and blue, too. In this project, we'll learn how to weave freedom bracelets.

We learned earlier that weaving is an ancient craft found in countries all over the world. People weave to make useful items as well as artwork. While most modern weaving is done on a machine, it's possible to weave on anything that can be strung. You can even use soda straws.

As with all projects at The Imagination Factory, we'll recycle to make the bracelets. This will help save landfill space and natural resources. You may have a few unused straws from fast food restaurants in your car's glove box or a kitchen drawer, or you can recycle used straws if you rinse them first.

After you finish the bracelets, wear them to honor the heroes in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, and to show your support of the United States as we try to stop terrorism. Make several bracelets and give them to your friends to wear. Send them to children in other states or countries as signs of peace, unity, and freedom. Let's spread the red, white, and blue all over the world. Show your colors!

You will need:

How to:

When the design for the American flag or The Stars and Stripes was adopted in 1777, the colors didn't have specific meanings. However, in 1782 the United States Great Seal was created to symbolize the Founding Fathers' beliefs and to stand for our new government.

Red, white, and blue braceletsEach color has special importance. White stands for purity and innocence, red symbolizes hardiness and valor, and blue stands for vigilance, perseverance, and justice. You can weave red, white or blue bracelets, or check the section below to learn how to make one using all three colors together.

Click on picture for a larger view.To make the loom, cut the straws so they measure about 5 inches in length. Lay them side by side, and match them so they're even at the top. Tape them together, front to back. To begin weaving, tie and knot a piece of yarn onto one straw just below the tape. Start by going over that straw and under and over the next in a figure eight motion. Continue the over-under pattern until you reach the end of the straws. Cut it from the skein, and tie and knot the yarn onto the last straw. Trim it near the knot.

Click on image to enlarge picture.Now you're ready to warp or thread the loom. Cut two pieces of yarn 12 inches in length. Thread the straws by pushing the yarn through them. This may be easier to do if you use straws with wide openings or shake a threaded needle through each straw. With the strands of yarn even at the top, tie an overhand knot near the end. Pull the tails through till the straws touch the knot. Remove the masking tape.

Click on image to enlarge it.Hold the weaving at the bottom. Now pull out the straws, moving the weaving up onto the warp threads as you go. Center the weaving on the warp threads by gently moving it to the middle. If necessary, make the bracelet shorter by cutting the two warp threads, but be sure to leave enough yarn to tie around your wrist. Finish by tying another overhand knot near the end of the warp threads.

How to Make a Bracelet with All Three Colors

Combination red, white, and blue braceletOlder children can make bracelets using all three colors. To do so, begin weaving as before. Continue the over-under pattern until you want to change colors. When you finish with the first color, cut it from the ball or skein, and knot the end onto one straw. On the other straw, tie on and knot a new color and continue weaving. Finish the second color as before, and continue weaving with the third color. Each time you begin a new color, weave over the loose end or tail of the color that came before.

When you come to the end of the straws, cut the yarn from the skein. Now tie and knot the tail, and trim it near the knot. If you use a variegated yarn, that is one made of red, white, and blue on the same skein, you'll need to tie knots only at the beginning and end, because colors will change automatically. Also, older kids may want to make something longer, like a headband or belt. See Soda Straw Weaving listed under Fiber Arts in Previous Activities for complete directions.

Younger Kids Can Twist Freedom Bracelets

Red, white, and blue rope braceletChildren of pre-school age can make freedom bracelets, too. Instead of weaving, it may be easier for them to make rope-style bracelets. First measure the child's wrist and add an extra three or four inches to allow for tying the bracelet.

Using red, white, and blue yarn cut three strands that are at least two times the number of this measurement. For example, if the child's wrist and tying allowance measure 7 inches, you'll need three pieces of yarn that are each 14 inches in length.

Click on the image to enlarge it.It takes two people to make the rope. Match the ends of the three pieces of yarn, and give one end of the strands to one child, and the other end to his partner. Ask the children to face each other and stand apart so that the yarn is pulled straight between them.

Click on the image to enlarge it.Using both hands, each child turns the three strands, with one turning them one way while his partner turns in the opposite direction. When the yarn has been tightly twisted, ask the children to stop. At this point it's very important that they hold on tightly to the yarn.

Click on the image to enlarge it.Now an adult should grasp it in the middle. Take one end of the twisted strands from one child, keeping the rope very straight. At the same time, keep the rope straight between the adult and the other child. Ask the partner to hold his end straight up over his head. Hand your end to the child and let go of the center. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Click on the image to enlarge it.The six strands will twist together to make the finished rope. Tie an overhand knot in the loose strands, and cut the other end of the rope. Try the bracelet on the child, and remove extra yarn, if necessary. Finish the bracelet by tying an overhand knot in the other loose strands.

Tips and Tricks:

Learn how to make a small book in which to write what you're feeling and thinking during this important time in our history. See Fold an Accordion Book for complete instructions.

Thanks to my students, Bailey and Sydney, for helping with this project.

©2001 Marilyn J. Brackney

Volume 15 No. 2

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