Friday, October 12, 2012

Making Rope Inspired by Call it Courage

We've started reading Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry as our literature study for Australia/Oceania.  For us it's probably the perfect story - there's fishing, hunting pigs, tropical plants, dogs, boating, boys, you get the idea.

Rather than use it as literature and break it down like in English class, I'm arranging our whole study around projects that recreate Mafatu's tasks in the book.  Projects that hit those themes above that are so loved around here.  For chapter 1, we made rope.  Chapter 1 talks about Mafatu making sharklines out of coir.  Toad did a handwriting worksheet with the definition of coir (fibers from coconut husks used for making rope) and then we went outside to make our own rope.

We had a teeny bit of background with rope.  Earlier this year at the state fair, the Toads got to try their hands at making twisted rope.

Mafatu didn't have access to a rope making machine and neither d0 we so we plaited our rope.  It was an opportunity to learn how to braid too by plaiting the fibers rather than twisting.  Our Bismarck palm puts out thread-like fibers so that was the first material we tried.  It's the curly parts below.

Braiding those gave us a small plait.  

Toad could tell that the braid was stronger than the individual fibers but that it wasn't the best material since it was brittle.  I showed him how to work in new threads when ones broke or he ran out of room.

Since the Bismarck fibers were only semi successful and we don't have any coconut palms in the yard we talked about what else we had that Mafatu might have had.  Toad wanted to try fibers from a Queen palm next.  He found those easier to braid.  Even though they were stiffer, they were larger, and easier to hold.  He discovered that while easier to braid it didn't make very good rope either since he ended up with a flat band rather than a round rope.  He was really appreciating the rope making machine at this point.

The Toads love fishing for sharks so they learned something about the benefits of the tackle shop for sure.  Trying to make their own rope they learned something about the materials they used, the problems in their technique and gained a bit of appreciation for the challenges involved in having to make all your own supplies.   The project was super successful and we're looking forward to the rest of the chapters and the upcoming projects for those.


JDaniel4's Mom said...

I don't think I have ever seen anyone make rope before. What a great opportunity to try to make your own!

Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn. I will be sharing this post on the Read.Explore.Learn. Facebook page late tomorrow afternoon.

toady mama said...

Thanks for doing that!

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