Slavery in Rome - Easy Basket Weaving for Kids

Week 5: We wove baskets.

Each week as part of our history studies we learn about a topic and do a craft. This week the topic was slavery in Ancient Rome and the craft was basket weaving.

Slavery was both essential and normal to the ancient Romans. Around one-third of the population were slaves. They did many jobs such as cooking and cleaning, but also performed duties that are surprising. Slaves were prison guards, teachers and even doctors. Some slaves ran businesses for their masters and even owned other slaves. The book Life of a Roman Slave (Way People Live) was filled with details and examples of what slavery was like during the Roman Empire. After reading the book I created a short presentation to tell the kids more about slavery in Rome.

Basket weaving was not unique to the Roman Empire. Almost all ancient cultures wove baskets from natural materials available in their regions. Weaving baskets can be an exciting hobby and is a craft project we have done several times. It was exciting to introduce it to another family.

When my eleven year old was six she had a fascination with woven baskets. While visiting my mother we were fortunate enough to have a private class from a wonderful woman. That day we spent almost eight hours learning basic basket weaving techniques by weaving a reed basket. She said the exact same technique could be used with other materials such as paper, newspaper and ribbon. We found paper baskets a little easier to create.

Here's the technique:

The first step was to gather the materials. That could mean gathering reeds and soaking them in water to make them flexible. In our case it meant preparing several (around 20-30) long skinny strips of paper. There are no right or wrong sizes to prepare. Differences in width, length and quantities of weaving strips used will result in various basket sizes.

We glued two sheets of paper together then measured and cut them into strips 2" in width.

The strips were folded in half and then both of the long edges were folded to the inside once more.

A quantity of strips were selected for the bottom of the basket and woven together. Six to eight strips for each edge worked well.

The woven strips for the base were packed as closely together as possible. The strips were centered and held in place with clothespins.

Next, the bottom row of the basket was woven around the base of the basket. Several clothespins were used to hold the strip in place. When the strip was woven completely around the base the ends  overlapped and laid together.

The first row was the most difficult. Once it was in place it was important to tighten the row often.

More strips were woven around the basket using the over-under technique until the basket was the desired height. A minimum of 2 inches of paper should stick up above the rim of the finished basket height.

Once the last row was in place the vertical strips were woven into the horizontal basket rows. Every other strip was pulled out of the last woven row so that it folded over the top row of weaving. The above picture shows this step complete for all except one green strip. Once the vertical strips were woven into a minimum of two basket rows they were trimmed.

The basket is finished.

This post is linked to:
Teaching Blog Addict
Sew Can Do
Montessori Monday
Country Kids
Bloom Design Online
We Made That
All Things Beautiful
The Chicken Chick
Hip Homeschool Hop
Tried it Tuesday

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  1. How neat as a basket weaving I have never tried a paper basket before.

  2. I am envisioning cleaner bedrooms with stuff stored in baskets they made themselves =) Thanks for the tutorial.

  3. I love this idea. The baskets are beautiful.

  4. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! Merry Christmas!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  5. Very impressive and great fun through learning. I've previously weaved newspaper with the children for a simple advent calandar - but not an ambicious basket. I hope you all had a great christmas and thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

  6. Those baskets are amazing and what a great way to learn.

  7. A great idea, we might have to try that in one of our home school lessons. #CountryKids


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