Sheep-shearing is a great place to begin the conversation with your children about the influences sheep has upon our culture here in New England. Seeing sheep being shorn with traditional tools while listening to tales being spun by the shearer can give kids a unique insight into our regional history and this historical trade. Asking questions about how wool is processed after a sheep has been shorn, and how modern day processing techniques might compare to the techniques used in the Colonial era can support interests and lead to a lot of learning! Check out sheep shearing happening at community events and local farms, some using traditional tools (Wool Days & Sheep to Shawl), others with modern electric tools for comparison (Sheep & Woolcraft Fair).
There are many festivals and wool celebrations that take place in New England throughout the year. Here are a few where you can learn more about raising sheep, fiber production, and processing.
An age-old skill, knitting provides us with some of our most treasured warm clothes. Learning the art of knitting can not only help to provide warmth, but can lead to explorations of local history, local agriculture, and complex math – and families can even engage in service-based learning by donating hand-knitted goods to help support people in need!
Want to learn how to dye wool with Kool-Aid or make a needle-felted fairy? Perhaps you’ve never seen sheep dogs in action or can’t tell a Cotswold from a Corriedale? Indulge your curiosities by attending the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair this Memorial Day weekend!
Often, math and art are seen as opposites: structure and the lack thereof. At the intersection of the two, however, lies quilting: an art form that is inherently mathematical. Families can explore everything from shape identification to tessellations by learning to create quilts together!
Learning to sew allows children is discover a new creative medium and can lead to studies of local history and local culture!
In the early spring, New England history and culture come alive with the arrival of newborn lambs and the shearing of sheep for the production of wool. The wool industry has strong ties to western Massachusetts, with annual events that celebrate our historical past and other events which showcase modern day shepherds and their flocks. Discover community events which take place this spring that are rich in learning opportunities!
Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair provides children with the opportunity to learn experientially about portions of agriculture, art, and the manufacturing of small-scale goods that are important both within our history here in western Massachusetts, and in our current modern culture as well.
The fourth annual Fiber Festival of New England is back in West Springfield this weekend and offering an incredible learning experience to families interested in workshops, demonstrations and all things fiber! The weekend long event will bring vendors and fiber enthusiasts together to promote the use of wool and other natural fibers and related products. Visitors have the opportunity to participate in craft workshops and watch informative demonstrations. The event provides a firsthand look into the fiber industry, complete with live displays of llamas, alpacas, sheep, rabbits and goats…