Nature Study: Fibers

Oklahoma winters can be harsh and for some parents, the desire to get outside significantly drops like just the temperature!  If you are wanting an indoor nature study, check out these ideas for a study on Fibers.  Look around your house. Do you have an article of clothing made from wool, cotton, or silk?


Here is an old method of sheep shearing called Blade Shearing.  Don’t worry, they don’t hurt the sheep!

Blade shearing in New Zealand
Blade shearing in Scotland
Machine shearing in Oklahoma at Shepherd’s Cross 
Questions to research:
  • Does wool only come from sheep?
  • What is lanolin and what is it used for?
  • Why are sheep so docile when they are being sheared?
  • Which is faster – machine shearing or blade shearing?  How could machine shearing be best?  How could blade shearing be best?

Books:  This website recommends 5 books for more research on sheep shearing


Here is a video by How to Make Everything on how we get silk.  Spoilers: the worms don’t make it.

Questions to research:
  • Where do we get silk?
  • What do silkworms eat?
  • How long do silk moths live?  What is their purpose in life?


In the same series, How to Make a Formal Suit, cotton makes the list.

Picking cotton and separating it from the seeds:
Spinning fibers into thread

To catch the full playlist of all 12 videos in the series How to Make a Formal Suit click here. (We have not reviewed all the videos in that series.)


Handbook of Nature Study: 

Have you heard of Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study? It’s a fantastic book that covers all kinds of creatures, plants, and habitats. Since it has all sorts of resources in it, you should download it for free at

Anna Botsford Comstock talks about using a microscope and molds and bacteria on pages 9, 720-725, 827 of the linked edition of the Handbook of Nature Study. Take a few minutes to read those pages, and then keep those ideas in mind as you and your kids watch the weather this month. That way, you may remember the answers for some of their questions, and you have another handy resource to check when you can’t.

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