Holiday Craft Time – Wheat Stars

imageI have wanted to try making Wheat or Straw Stars for a few years now so when we harvested the wheat in our third grade gardening class back in June we saved the stalks. I tried to make some last year but they were so round and slippery they wouldn’t stay put when I tried to tie them together.  Good news!  I found out a few “secrets” that make it easy enough to do with children 🙂   It does involve soaking and then ironing the wheat … I know, ironing wheat? Am I crazy?  I don’t even iron clothes but it is worth it and doesn’t take long.  No worries if you didn’t happen to grow a crop of wheat this past year, you can just buy a bale of straw at your local feed store (less than $10) or find someone who uses straw for their animals and gather a bucketful of the actual “straws” not the outer husk.

img_9363I did this project last week with both my seventh and fifth grade classes and they came out great, though as you can see in the photo some results were a little better than others! Do not try to put more than 4 pieces of straw together at a time. You can see what happened when several of the students tried that (right center & lower right stars)! I think they might be challenging for really young children but I was teaching an entire class of 20 at the same time so one-on-one it might work with a younger child.

HOW TO MAKE A WHEAT/STRAW STAR ORNAMENT

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Supplies Needed

  • a small bucket of wheat or hay “straw”
  • dish pan for soaking
  • scissors
  • fine thread and/or slightly thicker cotton thread (I used cotton perle and also a 100% cotton yarn.) NOTE: The cotton yarn worked well with children because it is thicker and easier for them to handle.  Also, it is not slippery like non-cotton thread.
  • small piece of cardboard about 8″ X 8″
  • 1 pushpin or thumbtack or sewing pin

Directions:

  1. Clean the outer husks off the straw or wheat. They peel off fairly easily.  They will also come off when you iron it so don’t worry if you miss some.
  2. Cut the wheat/straw into approximately 6 – 8″ pieces.  Make sure to cut off the “knuckles” on each piece.  This is where the segments of a stalk join together.
  3. Soak the pieces in a dishpan of warm water for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. You can put a plate and jar full of water to keep straw submerged.
  4. Drain out the water and iron the pieces to flatten them out as much as possible.  Use a medium-low setting.  The ironing helps dry them out and flattens them so they are easier to work with and look prettier when you cut the ends.

    image
    Use an iron to flatten the pieces.
  5. To assembly each star take 4 pieces of the wheat/straw. They do NOT have to be exactly the same size.  On your cardboard, crisscross them so they make an 8 pointed star shape and push the pin through the center of all 4 pieces of straw.

    image
    Pin the 4 pieces on cardboard with a pushpin.
  6. Cut a piece of thread/yarn about 8 -10 inches long and find the center then drape it over one of the top pieces of the star  (see photo).  Now weave each side over and under until they meet.
  7. Push the thread/yarn toward the center of the star and pull both ends to tighten (but not so tight that the star begins to curve inward).  Tie a knot as close to the star center as possible.
  8. Unpin the star and hold up both ends of yarn and tie near the top to make a loop for hanging.

image9.  Ta-da!  That’s it!  Now you just trim the ends with your scissors to make an angle or if your wheat/straw is wide enough (this is another reason to iron it) you can cut a notch in the middle of each end for a fancier look and make some of the “spokes” shorter. (see photos below)

ADVANCED STARS:  If you want to make a 16 pointed star (see photo below) you just take 2 of your 8 pointed stars and tie them together in the same way you made the first ones; weaving the yarn over and under and tying a knot tightly at the end.  Make sure you put the “backs” all facing the same direction so you can trim off the extra thread & have the nice sides all facing towards you.

image
Place 2 stars on top of one another and weave them together with yarn for a 16 pointed star.

These are seriously easy once you make the first one and you can get creative with different color threads or adding an extra weave so you have 2 or 3 pieces of yarn on each star.  You can also have fun trimming the ends into different angles.image

I love this craft because the materials are few and cheap and it takes no time to make a batch of these stars.  They are great little gifts for children to make and you can use them as package decorations or string a bunch of them together for a swag.  The possibilities are endless… so get yourself some straw and have fun!!!

 

 

 

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