We’ve been loving our studies of Native American cultures with Oak Meadow 3. Y’all know me, and know that I don’t always follow everything by the book; so when the syllabus said to make a dream catcher with the kids from common household stuff (paper plates and the like) I decided it would be fun to give using more natural materials a try and make something we could really keep and enjoy for a long time.
For this project, you’ll need:
1. An approximately 3-foot section of fresh, flexible tree branch. Ours was from a Hawthorne and was about 1/4 inch thick – any flexible wood should work.
2. Clay to make beads (we used Sculpty)
3. Durable string- we used hemp
4. Feathers for Decoration
5. Leather cording for finishing (or, brown fabric that has been cut into very thin strips)
To Make a Dream Catcher:
Strip the branch of any leaves and thorns. I left the smaller twigs on it, as long as they were flexible enough to manipulate.
Gently bend the branch until it’s in a circle form. We used the smaller twigs to wrap around to hold it in place. (see the image above) We did end up tying it with the hemp string to hold it in place while we started tying it.
We made the beads from sculpty, and a martini skewer for holes. Bake them at 35o for about 20 minutes. Cover them with foil while baking!
Wrap the string by placing it behind the branch, pulling it over the top, and then bringing it back down underneath the first string. (See the picture)
Pull it tight each time- the first wrap around was a little complicated because it didn’t want to hold. I had Bug help me by holding the first one in place as I moved on to the next section.
Repeat the wrap every inch or so around the hoop, pulling the string between knots tight enough so there is no slack, but not tight enough to cause the branch to bend. You want it to stay laying flat on the floor when you set it down.
I wrapped the end of my string around a twig to make it easier to thread, like a needle.
When you get all the way around the circle, begin tying the knots in the center of the previous rings stings. (see the image- you want the straight segments that run parallel with the ring)
Go around and around, being careful to keep the string tight!
When you get closer to the middle, add beads wherever you want them. I added mine at the third, fifth and seventh ring. In order to add them, I needed to unwrap the string from the twig so I could thread them easily- which was okay because then I was working with less, and the holes to tie knots in were getting smaller and smaller anyway!
To finish, add strings on the sides and tie on more beads and feathers. You can wrap the cording around the twig ring, tie the cording on the feathers, and add some as a loop to hang the dream catcher.
I thought it was a really fun and easy project for fall. Bug’s turned out fantastic as well, and he didn’t have any issues tying his own- give it a try with your kiddos!
Learn More about Native Americans and Dream Catchers with these children’s books:
Grandmother’s Dreamcatcher: A cute story about a child who has nightmares and learns about Dreamcatchers from her Grandmother.
The Very First Americans : A great introduction for very young students.
Atlas of Indian Nations: This one is my favorite book of reference for older children and adults.