Sheep to Sweaters

Sheep to Sweaters lesson plan

Find out how sheep fleece is turned into wool yarn by hand, then show what you know in a 3-D shadowbox.

  • 1.

    Did you know that sheep were the first animals to be domesticated by humans? Think about the things that sheep provide for people--wool, meat, and milk. What do people provide to sheep?

  • 2.

    There are many steps between touching a woolly sheep and wearing a cozy sweater. Research how people converted raw wool into sweaters before they used today's machines. Visit an historic site that does sheep shearing to see the process first hand.

  • 3.

    Cover your workspace with newspaper. Choose a recycled box or cardboard platform on which to create a 3D diorama of this historic procedure for making clothing. With Crayola® Washable Paint, Paint Brushes, and Crayola Washable Markers, create a landscape of the environment in which sheep live and graze such as mountains, hills, or farms.

  • 4.

    Use large cotton balls to make sheep. If you wish to have sheep with black or brown fleece, color cotton balls with markers. Fashion sheep legs and heads using twigs, or use Crayola Scissors to cut chenille sticks. Use Crayola School Glue to hold sheep together.

  • 5.

    A sheep's fleece protects it from cold weather, but this protection is not needed during warmer months. The fleece is cut off (sheared) before lambing (giving birth to lambs). Sheep grow an average of 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) of wool each year. Shearing i

  • 6.

    Include in your display the tools used in the sheep shearing and wool preparation process. Draw or construct them out of collage items and recycled materials. Sheep shears clip the fleece off. Two wool carders, which look like dog-grooming brushes, clean

  • 7.

    Wool is washed and may be dyed a color during this process, too. Weaving or knitting the yarn is the final step in this complex process to create clothing. Detail all of the steps of the process from sheep to sweater on a posterboard chart with Crayola Co


  • Children identify steps in the process of turning sheep fleece into wool yarn by hand.
  • Students study pre-industrial trades and everyday life in earlier time periods.
  • Students complete a chart and construct a 3-dimensional display showing sheep and their wool in the process from shearing to sweater.


  • Small groups of special needs or younger children can work with older students to research and create this project or adaptations. Visit a sheep farm. Ask a knitter or weaver to demonstrate the carding, spinning, and weaving or knitting process. Explore k
  • There are tiny hooks in wool fibers that lock together, very much like Velcro®. When the fibers are twisted, their bond is very strong, which is one reason why wool is such a valuable fiber. Raw wool can be purchased at many knitting stores. Students can
  • Lanolin is a natural oil produced in the fleece. It causes rain to run off the fleece and protects sheep from getting wet. Locate a bit of raw wool to feel the lanolin. People use lanolin in skin creams to keep skin soft and protected from moisture. Try this experiment--pour water on a piece of cloth coated with lotion containing lanolin, and another piece without lanolin. See how the water beads up and runs off the treated cloth?