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FNSS Curriculum Integration Project Click here to download this lesson.
Cindy Guillas (MS-Word format.)

Grade: 2/3
Lesson 1: Pipe-cleaner Basket Weaving
Time: 2x45 minutes

Topic: Basket Weaving

Rationale: By creating baskets similar to those mentioned in a story, the story can be brought to life. By making woven baskets the students can gain an understanding of one of the basket making techniques used by the Shuswap people.

Main Concepts

  • Students will gain an understanding of basket making techniques and respect for this fine art praticed for centuries by the Shuswap people. used by the Shuswap people.

Materials and Resources

  • Donna Meets Coyote, by Don Sawyer
  • variety of basket types: pine needle, cedar root, birch bark, in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • reference material that explains how and why First Nations people made and used baskets
  • pipe cleaners, 5 per student
  • raffia, wool or jute
  • scissors
  • an assortment of grasses, moss, twigs, flowers to weave into basket
  • chart paper and marker for `Uses of Baskets' chart


  • Basket Weaving

Intended Learning Outcomes
Language Arts

  • offer direct responses to their reading, listening, or viewing experiences supported by reasons, examples, and details

Visual Arts

  • make 3D images exploring a variety of media; using a variety of design strategies
  • create images in response to images from a variety of cultural contexts
  • demonstrate an awareness that materials and processes can be used to create particular effects
  • use appropriate vocabulary to identify the materials, tools, equipment and processes used to create particular images

Planned Learning Activities
PART 1: Introduction to Baskets

  1. Children should have prior experience with paper weaving and opportunities to practice weaving.
  2. Read Chapter 1 of Donna Meets Coyote, where Donna's grandmother makes baskets. Discussion: Why did Donna's grandmother make baskets? How do you think she made the baskets?
  3. Pass around traditional baskets for children to see, feel. (Types: pine needle baskets, birch bark baskets with handles, cedar root baskets, include baskets of various shapes and sizes).
  4. Talk about how traditionally, people didn't have metal pots and pans for cooking, and they didn’t have glass o plastic containers to carry water. Taking this into account, children will brainstorm possible uses for each type of basket presented. Allow time for discussion in small groups, then make a class `Uses of Baskets' chart, noting possible uses that were discussed during the small group session.
  5. Read excerpts from information books or website material on traditional Shuswap uses of baskets and traditional basket making techniques. Revisit class `Uses of Baskets' chart, making additions or changing information as required.

PART 2: Basket Weaving Lesson

  1. Introduce paper weaving activity and allow opportunities for practice amongst students.
  2. Explain that we will be making our own baskets (show sample). Ask for ideas of why we will be making baskets out of pipe cleaners and raffia instead of cedar roots or birch bark. (Lead discussion about lack of traditional materials and the necessity of leaving the natural fibres in nature, and describe the complexity and knowledge required to gather such items from the wild.)
  3. Demonstrate method for weaving pipe cleaner baskets:
    1. Each student gets 5 pipe cleaners. Twist these together in the middle to make a star shape. This is the basket form.
    2. Using raffia, wool or jute, attach one end to middle of star, then begin weaving this material over and under alternate pipe cleaners. If you get to the end of the raffia, carefully knot on another section, trim ends of knot.
    3. After a woven circle is formed (size to be determined by desired depth of basket), turn the pipe claners up to form a basket shape. Encourage students to experiment with colour and texture by weaving in a variety of grasses, moss or other natural found material.
    4. Continue weaving until .5cm pipe cleaner remains at top. To secure end of raffia or wool, knot it to one of the pipe cleaners. Bend pipe cleaners at edge of raffia towards inside of basket. Bend basket to desired shape.
  4. Allow time following the completion of the baskets for students to share their creations with classmates. Following this, students will make a journal entry in order to reflect on their basket making experience, using the guiding questions, provided.

Assessment and Evaluation

  • include detail and embellishment with natural found material
  • use ideas gained from examination of traditional baskets
  • use new vocabulary appropriately in their journal entry

Language Arts

  • accurately describe the art process and support this with examples and details
  • are able to reflect on the experience


  • experiment with a variety of weaving techniques, making blankets or tule mats as those used for summer shelter by traditional Shuswap people.
  • make `cedar bark' baskets using cedar bark from a sawmill or firewood supplier if possible

Integration Opportunities

  • Social Studies: Have students research other ways of making baskets, and other uses of baskets in other cultures.
  • Science: Test a variety of baskets for waterproofness, attempt a variety of techniques to make baskets waterproof.
  • Language Arts: Write a letter to a friend explaining how and why baskets were made and used.

Resources Used and Supplementary Materials Available

  1. Sawyer, Don (1988). Donna Meets Coyote, Kamloops, British Columbia: Secwepemc Cultural Education Society.
  2. Adams, Dawn and Markowsky, Jeannie (1988). The Queen Charlotte Islands Reading Series: A Teacher's Guide, Vancouver, British Columbia: Pacific Educational Press.
  3. Basket Making, http://www/sd69.bc.ca/~firstn/Secwepemc/sec_village/sec_basket.html" target="_blank">

Journal Entry Questions

  • Tell about a problem or challenge you have had to solve while weaving. What did you do to solve it?
  • Did you weave in natural objects such as grass or sticks? What worked best? Why?
  • What did you discover that might help you when you work on other weaving projects?
  • Describe the process we used for weaving baskets.

Summative Criteria

Criteria Ratings Comments
Useful, accurate, and relevant information is included in the journal entry 4 3 2 1  
Student demonstrates an understanding of the important ideas about the topic (through interaction and activities) 4 3 2 1  
Student demonstrates an appreciation and respect of the Shuswap culture 4 3 2 1  
Student used his/her knowledge of colour, texture, and culture to create an interesting final product 4 3 2 1  

4 – Powerful
3 – Good
2 – Basic
1 – Beginning