Weaving for Young Children

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Collect natural materials and weave them together with colorful yarn – perfect for early fall! In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day (Monday, Oct. 10, 2022), this activity is inspired by the Ohlone Indians of Northern California, known for weaving intricate tulle baskets, rafts, and shelters. 

Want to see some contemporary Ohlone basket making? Here’s a video of the Ohlone Basket Weaver, Linda Yamane, keeping a cultural tradition alive.

What We’re Learning & Skills We’re Building

  • Measurement – using a yardstick, a measuring tape, or a ruler to figure out how long the yarn needs to be 
  • Fine motor skills – using the small muscles in the hands to hold, twist, and tie yarn 
  • Cultural & historical appreciation – learning about baskets woven by the Ohlone people
  • Nature exploration – finding and using natural materials in art

(Note: Don’t pick twigs, flowers, or leaves directly from trees or plants! Please ask for permission to collect from private property [that’s not your own] and remember: no collecting is permitted in regional parks. Here’s a list of endangered plants in CA that may not be collected.)



  • 3-4 fallen twigs (about 6”-10” long)
  • Yarn or thick string (about 4’-5’ altogether) 
  • Yardstick, measuring tape, or ruler
  • Child-safe scissors
  • Dry grass, pine needles, flowers, leaves, etc. (about 6” or longer) 

Optional Materials 

Building the Base and Weaving  

  1. (Optional) Adults and older children can prepare the twigs by sanding them down or breaking off any sharp points. 
  2. Make a simple shape with the twigs (triangle, square, or rectangle, for example). This will be the base that your child ties and wraps the yarn onto. 
  3. Tie the twigs together at the points where they meet using 4”-5” pieces of yarn. (Optional) For adults and older children: before tying on the yarn, attach the twigs with a glue gun.
  4. Cut a piece of yarn about 2’-3’ in length. Show your child how to measure the length of the yarn using a yardstick, a measuring tape, or a ruler. 
  5. Tie one end of the yarn onto one of the twig connection points. 
  6. Wrap the yarn (horizontally) all the way down and around the twig base, until the yarn is at about 4” from its end. Tie this short tail in place onto one of the twigs. 
  7. Weave or tuck the grass, pine needles, flowers, and/or leaves through the yarn that’s horizontally wrapped around the base.

Options for Toddlers & Young Preschoolers

  1. Have your child wrap a 2’ length of yarn around a twig. 
  2. Punch holes in the outer edge of a thin paper plate (or a sturdy piece of cardstock). Have your child thread the yarn through the holes as an early sewing activity. 
  3. The youngest of artists can make a collage using natural materials, yarn pieces, and glue.

More Learning About Indigenous Peoples Day

Indigenous Peoples Day is a holiday to recognize and celebrate Native peoples as the first inhabitants of the Americas. Here are some ways to learn more this Indigenous Peoples Day: