Creation Station

Weave a Dreamcatcher

Easy project to keep bad dreams away

American Indian tribes from the Midwest have been making dreamcatchers for thousands of years as a charm to protect sleeping children from nightmares.

My own great-grandfather, Sam Keway, the last chief of Little Traverse Bay of Odawa Indians, taught me to make dreamcatchers when I was a child, weaving our family’s patterns with fishing line and beads onto a willow branch similar to the pattern woven into snowshoes.

My 5-year-old son Landen and I spent a snowy Sunday celebrating our ancestry while having fun with this easy craft, which you and your little ones can also enjoy. And once it’s done, hang the dreamcatcher near your child’s bed to capture any bad dreams.

Materials Needed

  • Paper plates
  • Crayons, colored pencils or paint
  • Colored craft string
  • Sequins
  • Glitter gel pens
  • Feathers
  • Plastic pony beads
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch

How To

Make the ring:

  1. Have your child trace the inner circle on a paper plate, about two inches from the outer edge.
  2. Using scissors, cut out the inner circle of the plate and remove it, so the plate resembles a large donut. Depending on your child’s age, you may need to assist with this.
  3. Have your child decorate the ring with crayons or colored pencils, sequins, glitter gel and drawings that represent favorite parts of life and things to dream about. They can decorate one or both sides of the ring.
  4. Stop for a snack to allow the glitter and glued-on decorations to dry.
  5. Once the decorated ring is dry, use a pencil to mark nine evenly spaced dots around the circle frame about a 1/4-inch from the inner edge.
  6. Let your child use the hole punch to make holes where the dots are. This is great for practicing hand-eye coordination.
  7. Have your child pick which part of the decorated plate will be the top of the dreamcatcher. Mark and punch two holes 1/4-inch from the ring’s outer edge at the top (for attaching the string the dreamcatcher will hang from).
  8. Mark and punch three holes 1/4-inch from the outer edge of the bottom of the ring.

Weave the pattern:

  1. Cut 3 feet of string. Thread one end through a hole in the inner part of the ring and tie off so that the knot sits between the inner edge and the hole.
  2. Making sure to cross the open center of the ring every time, let your child weave the string through each hole, creating a web. Add beads to the string at random points while weaving it through the holes.
  3. Once the string is woven through each hole of the inner circle, return to the hole you started from and tie the loose end of the string off.

Hang feathers:

  1. Cut two strings 8 inches long and one 12 inches long.
  2. Help your child tie a feather to one end of each string, adding pony beads to cover the knots.
  3. Carefully thread one of the 8-inch strings to the left-side hole on the bottom of the ring and tie off. Do the same with the 12-inch string in the center hole and finish with the other 8-inch string in the right-side hole.

Attach the hanging string:

  1. Cut a 6-inch piece of string.
  2. Choose eight or more beads and thread the beads onto the string.
  3. Create a loop for hanging by tying each end of the string to the two top holes of the plate.
  4. Voilà! Hang the dreamcatcher near your child’s bed and let the good dreams begin.

See hints for this project at right

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Hints
  • Parents should supervise all of the cutting and hole punching. Even older kids may need help starting to cut out the inner circle.
  • Paper plates work much better than styrofoam or plastic plates. Plastic plates can have sharp edges once the inner circle is cut out.
  • When tying off knots and weaving the string pattern, be sure to gently tighten the string to avoid ripping or bending the paper plate.
  • Allow enough time to complete this project — it is also something than can be done in several stages over the course of a day or several days (depending on your and your child’s attention spans).

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