Virginia McGaw.

Construction work for rural and elementary schools online

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Construction Work
Rural and Elementary



Teacher in the Elementary School
of Baltimore




In offering this volume to the public the author has but one
wish - namely, that it may supply a want in time of need and help some
one over a difficult place.

Most of the subject-matter in Parts One, Two, Three, and Four was
written for and has been previously published in the _Atlantic
Educational Journal_, with a view to assisting the rural teacher. The
present volume comprises a revision of the articles published, together
with a short account of one season's work in a school garden, and has
the same object - that of aiding the rural teacher by means of a few
simple suggestions.

The work is divided into five parts - "Cord Construction," "Paper
Construction," "Wood Construction," "Basketry," and "The School
Garden." No subject is dealt with at length. The aim has been to give
simple models that may be made without elaborate preparation or special

Believing that a child is most likely to appreciate his tools when he
realizes their value or knows their history, a brief introduction to
each part is given, and wherever possible, the place of the occupation
in race history is dealt with, and an account of the culture and
habitat of the material is given.

As clear a statement as is possible is made of how the model is
constructed, and in most cases both a working drawing and a picture are


April, 1909.


To the _Atlantic Educational Journal_ for the privilege of revising and
relinquishing the articles on Cord, Paper, Wood, and Basketry.

To Mr. George M. Gaither, Supervisor of Manual Training in the Public
Schools of Baltimore, for five of the woodwork patterns.

To President Richard W. Silvester, of the Maryland Agricultural
College, for the inspiration to write the _Garden Bulletin_, his
consent to its republication, and his hearty coöperation in its




1 Overhand Knot 10
2 Square Knot 10
3 "Granny" Knot 11

4 Loop Chain 11
5 Overhand Knot Chain 13
6 Solomon's Knot Chain 13

7 Knotted Bag 15
8 Miniature Hammock - Knotted 16
9 Miniature Portière - Knotted 17

10 Miniature Hammock - Woven 17



1 Windmill or Pin-wheel 31
2 Square Tray No. I 31
3 Square Tray No. II 31
4 Square Box with Cover 32
5 Square or Rectangular Box 33
6 Pencil Box with Sliding Cover 35
7 Seed Box with Sections 37
8 Picture Frame No. I, Diagonal Folds 37
9 Picture Frame No. II 37
10 Portfolio 40
11 Barn - House - Furniture 41
12 Hexagonal Tray 42
13 Lamp Shade 44
14 Star 45
15 Notebook 46
16 Bound Book 47
17 Japanese Book 49
18 Scrap-Book 50


1 Puzzle 56
2 Plant Label 58
3 Pencil Sharpener 58
4 Match Scratch 59
5 Kite-String Winder 60
6 Thermometer Back 61
7 Pocket Pin-Cushion 61
8 Picture Frame 63
9 Japanese Box 65
10 Grandfather's Chair 66



1 Napkin Ring No. I 75
2 Napkin Ring No. II 76
3 Mat 76
4 Hamper Basket 77
5 Basket Tray 79
6 Basket with Handle 81

7 Plaited Rope 84
8 Plaited Mat 85
9 Purse 86
10 Plaited Basket 86
11 Hat of Plaited Rope 88
12 Napkin Ring 89
13 Indian Basket 89
14 Grass Basket or Tray 91
15 Basket of Splints and Raffia 93

16 Umbrella 97
17 Miniature Chair No. I 97
18 Miniature Chair No. II 99









To a child one of the most attractive of possessions is a piece of
cord. He has so many uses for it that it becomes part of the prized
contents of his pocket. Since this commodity affords so much pleasure
to the untrained child, how greatly may the pleasure be enhanced if he
is taught how to make the number of beautiful things that may be
wrought from cord or twine! Having this knowledge, he will
unconsciously employ many otherwise weary moments in fashioning some
coveted article.

Among the things he can make are chains, reins, bags, nets, miniature
hammocks, portières, and rugs for the dollhouse. He must be guided step
by step from the simplest to the more intricate. He must be taught that
only when a thing is well done has it any use or value, therefore the
best effort is necessary to the success of his work. If he ties a knot,
it must be properly tied or it will not hold. If he makes a bag or a
hammock, the meshes must be uniform and the color blendings pleasing or
it will lack beauty, and even he, himself, will not care for it. Should
he make a chain or reins, they ought to be attractive-looking as well
as useful; hence the aim should be for artistic combination and perfect
execution. The success the child will meet with will depend greatly
upon the attitude of the teacher toward the work and the amount of
spirit she may be able to infuse into it.


_Aim_ - To teach the names of different knots, how they are
tied, and the utilitarian value of each.

Begin by teaching how to tie a knot, and that all knots are not alike
nor tied in the same way. There are three kinds of knots - the overhand
knot, the square knot and the "Granny" knot. Each of these has its use,
its place, and a utilitarian value.

1 Overhand Knot

_Material_ - One 10-inch piece of heavy twine.

Hold one end of the twine firmly in the left hand and throw the other
end over with the right hand to form a loop; then pass the end in the
right hand under the loop; and draw it through tightly, making a firm

[Illustration: OVERHAND KNOT]

A long piece of twine in which are tied either single knots at regular
intervals, or groups of three or five knots with spaces between, will
make a chain which will delight any small child.

2 Square Knot

_Aim_ - To teach how to tie a knot that will not slip.

_Material_ - One 12-inch piece of heavy twine.

Take an end of the twine between the thumb and the forefinger of each
hand. Holding in the left hand end No. 1, pass it to the right over end
No. 2; then pass it under No. 2; finally, pass it out and over, making
the first tie. Now, holding end No. 1 firmly in the right hand and end
No. 2 in the left, pass No. 1 to the left over No. 2, then under, out
and over; draw the two ties together, and you will have a firm, square

[Illustration: SQUARE KNOT]

3 "Granny" Knot

_Aim_ - To teach the name of the knot one usually ties and
how to tie it.

_Material_ - One 12-inch piece of heavy twine.

Take an end of the twine between the thumb and the forefinger of each
hand and hold firmly. Pass end No. 1 to the right over end No. 2, under
and out. Next pass end No. 2 to the right over end No. 1, under and

We now have the knot known as the "Granny," which we ordinarily tie.


4 Loop Chain

_Material_ - One piece, 5 yards long, of macramé cord, No.
12, one color. (See page 12.)

About five inches from one end of the cord make a short loop. Using
this loop as a starting-point, work up the length of the cord to within
about eighteen inches of the other end, by repeatedly drawing a new
loop through the one previously made as one does in crocheting. The
child can easily manipulate the cord with his tiny fingers. Aim to have
the loops of uniform size. Finish with a loop five inches long, leaving
an end of the same length. Now, placing together the two ends of the
chain, we have a loop and two single ends of cord. Take these single
cords together and buttonhole them over the loop for about three
inches, then twist. Tie the single ends with a square knot, and fringe
them out; leave the loop.

[Illustration: LOOP CHAIN
Showing how stitch is made and appearance of finished chain.]

Instead of being fringed, the ends may have a large bead attached to
each, and a whistle may be strung on the loop. This would both make
the chain attractive to the child and demonstrate a use for it.

5 Overhand Knot Chain

_Material_ - Macramé cord, No. 12: one piece 2 yards long,
white; one piece 2 yards long, red.


Fasten the two pieces together in the middle. Pin them to a board or
slip them over a hook where the cord will be held firmly. Using the
overhand knot, tie each color alternately, until all except about four
inches of cord is used up. Taking four ends as one, tie a slip-knot
close up to the point where you stopped forming the chain. Next, fringe
out the four ends close up to the knot. The result is a circular cord
with stripes running diagonally around it, very pleasing to the eye of
a child.

The lengths here given make a fob-chain about five inches long.

6 Solomon's Knot Chain

_Material_ - Four pieces of macramé cord, No. 12, 2-1/2 yards
long, of one color. (See page 14.)

Double in the middle and leave two loops, each two inches long. Take
two strands as the center and foundation and attach them to a hook or a
board where they will be held firmly. Loop the two remaining threads
alternately over the two central ones, first the one on the right, then
the one on the left. For instance: Take a single cord on the left, form
a loop to the left of the double cords, draw the end over the two
foundation pieces and hold firmly. Then take a single cord on the
right, pass it over the piece of cord which forms the loop, then under
where the three pieces cross and up through the loop; draw it tight.
Then work with a single cord on the right in the same way and continue,
alternating the two single cords, until there is left about four
inches. Clip the middle cords so that the four ends may be of equal
length. Finish by tying them in a square knot and fringing the ends.
This forms a flat chain one-quarter of an inch wide and one-eighth of
an inch thick, which may be made any length desired.

Showing how stitch is made.]

[Illustration: KNOTTED BAG]


7 Knotted Bag

_Material_ - Macramé cord, No. 12, one or two colors; twelve
pieces 1 yard long or six pieces 1 yard long, of each of the
two colors.

Double each piece of cord in the middle and tie it in a loop over a
pencil or some other object that will make the loops of equal size.
Slip the loops from the pencil and string them to a cord, alternating
the colors. Join the ends of the cord so as to form a hoop. You now
have twelve loops on this hoop and one row of knots. Form a second row
of knots by tying cords of different colors together. The meshes should
be uniform and of the size of the loops. Continue knotting one row
below the other until about three inches of cord remain. Now stretch
the bag out straight and double and tie together the four cords, which
operation will form the bottom and close the bag. Fringe the ends and
trim them off evenly.

Make a loop chain, and run it through the top loops, having removed the
working cord. Small brass rings may be used at the top instead of
loops, and the drawing string may be run through them. A larger bag may
be made by the addition of more and longer pieces of twine.


8 Miniature Hammock - Knotted

_Material_ - Twelve pieces of seine cord, No. 12, each 2
yards long. Two iron rings, 1 inch in diameter.

String the pieces of cord through a ring, taking care that the ends are
of the same length. About three inches from the ring, knot each piece
of cord. This will make twelve knots and form the first row. For the
second row, knot alternate pieces of cord. Continue until there are
twelve rows of knots. Be careful to make the meshes the same size.
Leave about three inches unknotted and attach these ends to the second
ring. Make a twisted cord (of four thicknesses of macramé) of some
contrasting color and run through the meshes of each side, taking it
twice through each mesh and attaching it to rings at the ends of the
hammock. The meshes should be about an inch square. Make the cords a
little shorter than the sides of the hammock, in order to give it the
proper spring. Take an extra piece of cord the color of the hammock and
wrap it around the cords close up to the rings, winding it evenly and
firmly for about an inch from the ring; fasten it securely.

9 Miniature Portière - Knotted

_Material_ - Twelve 36-inch lengths of macramé cord, No. 12.

Double each piece in the middle and, using the overhand knot, tie it
over a stout lead pencil or a very narrow ruler. See that each knot is
pressed close to the foundation holder, that the loops may be of equal
size. These loops and knots form the first row. Do not remove them from
the holder. Separate the cords and knot together each two adjacent
ones, alternating at every other row. Continue knotting until about
three inches of cord remain to form the fringe at the bottom. Before
tying the last row of knots, slip a colored glass bead over each set of
cords, then make the knot so as to hold the bead in place. These beads
are an ornament, apart from giving weight to the portière to make it
hang well. Trim the fringe evenly, slip the portière from the
foundation holder, and it is ready to hang.

Use beads the color of the cord, or of some effective contrasting
shade. If a child is expert enough, a bead may be placed at every knot,
adding decidedly to the attractiveness of the little portière. (See
page 18.)


10 Miniature Hammock - Woven

_Material_ - Tag-board loom 8×10 inches. Cord of one, two or
three colors. Two brass rings, 1/2 inch in diameter.

[Illustration: MINIATURE PORTIERE - (For description see page 17.)]

To make a loom, take a piece of tag-board 8×10 inches in size. Measure
off one inch from the back edge and draw a line parallel to the back
edge. Measure off one inch from the front edge and draw a line parallel
to the front edge. Measure off one inch from the right edge and draw a
line parallel to the right edge. Measure off one inch from the left
edge and draw a line parallel to the left edge. You have now a 6×8-inch
rectangle marked off, leaving a one-inch space around the edge of the
tag-board. Start at a point where a vertical and a horizontal line
intersect and mark off the six-inch ends into spaces one-fourth inch
apart. Next with a large needle pierce the board at each point of
intersection. This will make twenty-five eyelets at each end. On the
reverse side of the board draw diagonals to determine the center. Tie
together the two brass rings and fasten them firmly to the center of
the reverse side.

Showing how it is started.]

To string the loom requires about fifteen yards of cord. Divide the
cord into two lengths. Thread a length into a needle and tie one end of
it to one of the brass rings. Next carry the cord from the ring through
the thirteenth perforation, then across the face of the loom to the
thirteenth perforation at the opposite end, through again to the
reverse side and pass through the opposite ring from which it started.
Repeat this operation by carrying the cord in a reverse direction each
time until one-half the loom is strung. Then with the other length of
cord start, by attaching it to the same ring to which the first piece
was tied, and work in the opposite direction until the second half is
strung. Should it be necessary to add to the cord, arrange that the
knot be on an end near a ring. A knot in the warp hampers the weaving.

[Illustration: A RUG
Made of narrow strips of cotton cloth.]

Have the warp threads and the predominant woof thread of the same

To begin weaving, cut a quantity of ten-inch lengths. Take one of these
lengths, start in the center of the loom, and weave in and out among
the warp threads, allowing it to extend two inches beyond on each side.
Have a perfectly smooth, narrow, thin ruler and weave it in across the
warp threads. As each horizontal or woof thread is added, shove it
close to the preceding one with the ruler, which acts as a pusher.
Weave first on one side of the center and then on the other, until the
entire 6×8-inch space is covered. If a border is to be put in, gauge
equal spaces from the center and work in the border of a different
shade or color. The borders must be placed equally distant from the
center and the same distance from each end. Take the overhanging cords
and knot each alternate two together along the line of the outer warp
thread. This will hold the woof threads in place, as well as finish the
edges of the hammock. Comb these ends out and trim them, to get the
fringe even. At each end where the weaving stops, take a needle
threaded with a length of cord and run in and out along the warp
threads, first to the right and then to the left of the final woof
thread. This makes a secure finish and holds the woof threads in
position. Next unfasten the rings and remove the hammock from the loom
by tearing the tag-board along the lines of perforations. Finally,
where the cords pass through the ring, hold them close to the ring and
wrap them with a piece of cord for the distance of an inch, then fasten
off by forcing the needle up through the wrapped space toward the ring;
draw the end through and clip close to the ring. The hammock is now

The question may arise: Why begin weaving in the center of the loom?
The answer is: Because small children, and even older ones, sometimes,
are not able to keep their warp threads parallel and as they approach
the middle, where these threads give more, they naturally draw them in.
This tendency is remedied to a great extent by beginning in the middle
and weaving toward the ends, where the warp is confined in the board
and keeps its place with no effort on the part of the child.





Whatever may have been the true origin of the art of paper-making, it
is now lost in obscurity. It is almost certain that the earliest form
of paper was the papyrus of the Egyptians and that they were the first
to use it as a writing material. They manufactured it from the stem of
the papyrus plant, from which the name _paper_ comes.

It is also known that the Chinese were versed in this art before the
Christian Era, and that they made paper from the bark of various trees,
the soft part of bamboo stems, and cotton. In India and China the
practice of writing on dried palm and other leaves still obtains. It is
probable that the employment of these fibrous substances, together with
observation of the methods of paper-making wasps and other insects, led
to manufacturing by pulping the materials and spreading them out.

As the Chinese seem to have been the pioneers in so many great
inventions, so also they appear to have been the inventors of this art.
From the Chinese the Arabians learned, in the seventh century, the
craft of making paper from cotton, and they established a manufactory
at Samarcand in 706 A. D. Here the Moors learned the art, and through
them it was introduced into Spain. It is thought that the Moors used
flax and hemp in addition to cotton in their manufacture of paper. The
products of their mills are known to have been of a most superior
quality, but, with the decline of the Moors, paper-making passed into
less skilled hands, and the quality of the paper became inferior.

From Spain the art spread through the other countries of Europe, and as
factories were established further north, where cotton was not a
product nor easy to import, the necessity of substituting some other
material probably led to the introduction of linen rags; but when they
began to be used is uncertain. England was far behind the other
countries of Northern Europe in introducing the industry of


In the United States to-day paper in all varieties is manufactured to
an enormous extent, and almost exclusively from vegetable matter. The
book and newspaper trades demand an untold quantity.

There are three great types - writing, printing, and wrapping paper.
Writing paper is made from rags and wood pulp. The staple for wrapping
paper is old rope, and in some cases jute. The best writing and
printing papers, however, are made from rags. From these as staples,
all other varieties are developed, and we have paper for every use to
which man can apply it.

Paper folding and modeling is not an ancient occupation, but a modern
device, yet to the child it has a utilitarian value not to be
overlooked. His nature demands that he be employed, and change of
occupation is conducive to his happiness. Nothing is quite so restful
to him as to do something with his hands; therefore, with his blocks he
builds a house, fences it around with his splints, and strews the
ground with imaginary trees and animals. He lives in this nursery play,
and in it he is happy.

When he enters school, should he have only books? No, his hands still
demand employment. He is now led to fashion from paper what he has
already made with his blocks and toys. He is occupied, he is
interested, and he is cultivating concentration and industrious habits.
Is this worth while?

Begin the lessons with a talk on the manufacture and uses of paper. By
a story, an association or the suggestion of a future use the child
should be made to feel that he is doing something worth while. This
will accentuate the interest and deepen the impression.

All models given may be increased or decreased in size if the
proportions are adhered to, but the dimensions stated are those
commonly used.


_Aim_ - To construct a windmill or pin-wheel.

Each child should have a five-inch square, a slender stick five inches
long, a pin, a ruler, a pair of scissors, and a lead pencil.

The children are supposed to know that every piece of paper, laid in
position, has a back edge, a front edge, a right edge, a left edge, a

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Online LibraryVirginia McGawConstruction work for rural and elementary schools → online text (page 1 of 6)