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Winter hang ups.

Young students are attracted to the soft texture and bright colors of felt. My students made lush banners portraying, penguins, polar bears, birds, and other animals associated with winter. Suspended front the ceiling of our school entryway, their banners created a winter wonderland.

To begin, students in grades two through eight were given blue felt cut into lengths of 15 x 18" (38 x 46 cm) for the body of their banners. They glued strips of black felt across the rap, equally spaced and looped, forming tabs to receive dowels for hanging. To dress up the dowels, the students shaped lightweight modeling compound into decorative finials.

Dividing their portions of modeling compound into halves, they experimented with different forms and made matching pairs. We found the modeling compound would stick to wood without glue. They gently pressed their finials onto the ends of the dowels and were ready to paint. I suggested cool colors for the dowels and contrasting colors for their finials.

One Piece at a Time

Before working out their designs, I demonstrated how to make a paper pattern to transfer onto felt. I drew a snowman wearing a hat and scarf. I explained that each portion of my drawing would be cut out individually and according to color, starting with the largest shape. Following the contour lines of my snowman, I cut out his body and traced it onto felt. Next, I cut out the felt and placed it on a banner. I repeated the process for each shape until my drawing was completely reassembled in felt. I showed them how to cut up one shape into pieces and reassemble it afterwards, rather than trying to make an entire scarf, for example, in one piece. I suggested they pay attention to detail and perhaps fringe the edges of a scarf to add dimension and texture. I told students not to glue down their work until their drawings were completely presented in felt and final adjustments were made.

With a clear understanding of pattern making, students designed their banners. They used white drawing paper hefty enough to trace without pinning. To avoid waste, I instructed them to trace shapes along the edge of felt squares, not smack in the middle (always a temptation). I directed them to a felt scrap bag for small pieces. At cleanup, only neat, dry scraps were kept for future use.

As students worked, they made important decisions about their designs. Is the subject strong enough to stand alone, or does it need background details, another animal or a decorative border? Some students added lines with black permanent marker for definition of shape. A polar bear, for example, may require contour lines on his chin and legs.

Buttons and pom-poms were popular choices for decorative details. Everyone opted to add felt trim shaped like melting snow to the bottom of their banners. On hand were selections of plastic die-cut snowflakes to glue or dangle from the dowels, and wired miniature snowflakes to coil across the top. These special craft items were fairly inexpensive when purchased at post-holiday sales.

All That Glitters

Sparkling ice crystals similar to glitter were added last. Using white glue, students created swirls, snowflakes, and blankets of shimmering snow. They pinched small amounts of crystals from containers and sprinkled it over their banners.

Grouped together, the banners are stunning. We hung them on S hooks made from pieces of coat hangers. We then placed them back to-back on wire stretched across the ceiling of our foyer. Each banner is a hearty slice of winter magic, creating a winter wonderland.

NATIONAL STANDARD

Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

Barbara Silverstein is an elementary art teacher at Assumption School in Morris town, New Jersey.
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Title Annotation:Elementary; felt banners
Author:Silverstein, Barbara
Publication:School Arts
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2003
Words:627
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