Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Love Connects Us: A Program on Living in Unitarian Universalist Covenant for Grades 4-5

Activity 3: Make Fringed Fabric Rugs

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • A piece of light-colored fabric, approximately 2x3 feet, for each participant
  • Pencils for all participants
  • Colorful permanent markers and scissors (including left-handed scissors) to share
  • Yarn, fine hemp cord, or embroidery floss; and sewing needles for all participants
  • Newspaper to protect work surfaces

Preparation for Activity

  • Cut a rectangle of solid-colored fabric for each person. Two by three feet is large enough to suggest a rug; to save time and materials, you could make the rectangles smaller. Canvas is the ideal weight for a rug, but any light-colored fabric without a print will do. Sheets from a thrift store are an excellent, affordable source for fabric.
  • Obtain yarn, fine hemp cord, or embroidery floss to make fringe for the rugs, and sewing needles-one for each participant-with eyes large enough to accommodate the yarn.
  • Make a sample rug to show the group, using the directions below.
  • Anticipate that some children may not complete their rugs during this session. Make a plan for where you can store this project and when the children can work on the rugs again.
  • Lay out newspaper to protect work surfaces from permanent marker.
  • Set out materials.

Description of Activity

Participants make fringed rugs in the style of the knotted rugs made by the child laborers who inspired Craig Keilburger to work for children's rights.

Using the sample you have made, explain and demonstrate how children will make the rugs. Invite them to get started.

Encourage children to complete their pattern using marker dots. Tell them each dot represents a knot a child laborer might tie in an actual carpet. They may tire of making dots and choose to draw lines or blocks of color. This is fine, but point out that people making the actual rugs do not have this option.

As they work, suggest the children imagine creating their rug pattern with thousands of tiny knots, rather than simply drawing. Engage discussion with these questions:

  • What effect do you think such taxing work would have on a child's mind and body over the course of several years?
  • Why might manufacturers want to use children for this labor? Why don't manufacturers make these rugs another way?
  • What would kids need in order to have a better life?

Watch the time. Give children a heads up when you think they ought to be switching to the fringe-making part of this activity in order to complete the rug in the time allotted.

Note: This activity intentionally offers children a taste of the work some children are compelled to do in parts of the world. A bit of frustration can enhance a child's learning experience, but do not allow any particular child to become personally discouraged. If an aspect of this project appears difficult for a child, quickly offer help.

Children may indeed need and want more time to finish their rugs. When it is time to stop this activity, let the group know where they may leave uncompleted rugs and when they will have the opportunity to finish them.

Optional: You may wish to invite a volunteer to attach their rug to the group's Rainbow Wall hanging, now or during the Closing.

Directions for Patterned, Fringed Rugs

  • Lay a square of fabric over newspaper.
  • Draw a pattern on the fabric with pencil.
  • Color the pattern by making dots with permanent markers.
  • Create fringe on the two shorter edges of the rug.
    • Thread yarn on a large needle. Pull enough yarn through the needle's eye to give you a good length of doubled yarn.
    • Insert the needle approximately half an inch from the edge you plan to fringe. Pull the yarn almost all the way through the fabric, leaving just enough for the desired length of fringe (approximately two inches).
    • Then, double over the yarn and cut the front to match the length you have left behind.
    • Tie the front two strands of yarn to the back two with a single knot.
    • To make the next piece of fringe, insert the needle approximately half an inch from the knot you have just tied, and repeat the process.
    • Continue along the edge of the fabric until that side of the rug is completely fringed. Repeat on the opposite edge.

Including All Participants

Be ready to help children with manual dexterity limitations, especially with tying the knots of the fringe.