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The picture to the right shows a woman spinning thread like a woman in 1st Century Isreal might have done. They would start by making yarn using a drop spindle, then might dye the yarn, and then weave it on a loom. All of these activities make great crafts, though some of them are not as easy for young children.
MAKING THREAD ON A DROP SPINDLE
I have not tried this out but it looks as if this is a craft which could be done with older children and teens, but might be too hard for younger children. A drop spindle can be made from a dowel and a door pull, wooden car wheel, or even a an old CD. There is a good video showing how to use a drop spindle here, and you can find some detailed written instructions here (though it looks like two different types of spindles were used, one with a weight at the bottom and another with a weight at the top). Making enough string for even the coaster sized weaving project below would probably be too time consuming for a typical VBS marketplace session or Sunday School class, but it looks like making enough for three strands for a braided bracelet might be possible.
While it’s possible to dye with the same natural materials used in the first century, most methods require boiling and some considerable time. So, if you want to dye wool or cloth with children commercial dyes may be preferable (though you can use grape juice or kool-aid). However, if you intersperse dying with other activities during the wait time while the dye sets, it may be possible. Click on the links below to find out how to make various dyes which might have been used in first century Galilee:
Overview of Dying With List of Natural Materials You Can Use
(not all materials listed were available in 1st Century Isreal)
Plants Used in Dying (Includes historial info on some plants)
(Page sometimes refers you to Medical Uses of Plants and other sections of its site, which can be found from its main page here.)
Chicory and Walnut Dye
(Also has a Goldenrod Dye, which is Native to the Americas and wasn’t in Isreal at that time. But chicory and walnut were both available in Isreal).
Dandelion Root Dye
Grape Juice Dye
Marigold/ Calendula Dye
Onion Skin Dye
Making coaster sized rugs or woven bracelets with cardboard looms is a craft children can do, and which many adults would enjoy as well. You can find a tutorial here or check out the video below. You can make the looms yourself from scrap pieces of cardboard, though if you are doing these with a large group it might be worth it to buy them (you can find a variety of sizes for sale here and some wide-notched varieties that work well for kids here). To make it easy for children to weave, you can glue popsicle sticks to the end of pre-cut pieces of yarn for them to use as a “needle” to pull the thread over and under the strings, or you can purchase plastic needles. Unfinished projects can be taken home, but make sure to first demonstrate what to do when finished (and possibly send home printed instructions). Another option is a straw loom which is sometimes easier for little hands.
Picture of weaver from Nazareth Villiage provided by See the Holy Land.
HOW TO WEAVE ON A CARDBOARD LOOM