My sons attend a Charter School where families are invited to volunteer as much as they wish (or are able), which adds a richness to the educational community; I volunteer by co-facilitating a series of hand-craft seminars for the kindergarten and first grade classes. In our seminars, the children decorate peg dolls, construct peg doll houses from boxes, and learn to use a French knitting machine, but the favorite craft this year has been making dream catchers.
I start off by explaining to the classes that dream catchers were woven by the grandfathers and grandmothers of the Ojibwa, Chippewa and Lakota Native American Indian Tribes for their grandchildren. The dream catchers were hung above beds, and children would be comforted by the idea that bad dreams could be caught in the spider's web at the center of the dream catcher, while good & peaceful dreams would filter down through the feathers fluttering at the bottom.
Hemp, jute or paper wrapped 18 gauge floral wire (we use THIS)
Blunt metal tapestry needles
Yarn of various colors
A wire cutter
STEP 1 :: Use a wire cutter to cut your hemp or jute wrapped floral wire into 36 inch (1 meter) lengths and then twist the lengths into circles approx. 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter. Once your circle is formed, twist the remaining ends around the circle (see photos above).
STEP 2 :: Cut 4 ft. lengths of yarn, and thread onto needles (if you are making one dream catcher, you will need only one piece of yarn and one needle, however, for a class of children, you will, of course, need yarn and needles for all the children!).
This is a great opportunity to teach children to tie knots. Have the children knot the ends of their yarn to a spot on the dream catcher, and then show them how to find a loop between the wires at the opposite sides of their circles, and pull their needle through the small loop of wire (see photo above).
If the children would like to add beads, show them how to thread a bead over their needle before they run the needle through a loop on the opposite side of their dream catcher circle.
After each child has finished weaving a spider web inside their dream catcher, you will have to help them secure the end of their yarn with a knot (leaving enough yarn at the end to tie a loop for hanging). Once the end of the yarn is secured, the children can slide the beads around in an arrangement which pleases them.
STEP 3 :: Cut 3 lengths of yarn per dream catcher, approx. 8 inches (20 cm) each, and tie a feather to one end. Then tie the yarn to the bottoms of the dream catchers (a great opportunity for the children to practice their knot-tying skills).
STEP 4 :: After the children have admired their fine work, it's fun to ask them questions about their dreams and also have them draw pictures of their dreams. Then the children can take their dream catchers home and hang them above their own beds.