five young girls in classroom with one dressed in homemade outfit of plastic and painted cardboard

Weatherproof Fashion Show: Students Share What to Wear in Extreme Weather

Early Childhood students (ages 5 to 6 years) culminated their study of weather and climate with a showcase of clothing they designed for drought, tornado, tsunami, and blizzard

young child wearing sunglasses and headpiece made of castoff lampshade painted gold and silver

A student models an outfit for extreme heat featuring a headpiece made of a castoff lampshade, tape, and gold and silver paint (Photo by Emily Grunfeld)

Launching the Process

The Room 15 Weatherproof Fashion Show began unexpectedly. Some children were working in the classroom communication center making purses and cellphones out of paper, tape, and staples. A child noticed a roll of butcher paper, still out from when a teacher had cut a piece to cover a table. The child asked for a large piece of paper and began to draw a large dress. Some more children saw this happening and asked for large pieces of paper to design life-size paper clothing.

four young children drawing on large butcher paper laid out on a patio

Working on large butcher paper placed on the floor, children make life-size drawings of people and clothing

Excited about what was emerging, more and more students joined in and made shirts, pants, dresses, and accessories. They decided they wanted to put on a fashion show.

When the class began studying weather a few weeks later, the discussion turned to the topic of choosing appropriate clothing for different weather conditions. A lightbulb went off for one student: What if we made our fashion show a weather fashion show, with clothes that are appropriate for all types of weather? She shared her idea with the class and the excitement spread.

Investigation

The students’ designs for their fashion show were informed by a variety of sense-making experiences. This included investigating all types of weather — from calm to extreme — through books, videos, and firsthand observation. The children also had long discussions about clothing and its purpose. They looked closely at textiles, patterns, and dress forms, learning about the different tools fashion designers use to make their 2D plans into outfits that can clothe a fully dimensional body. They also looked at primary sources for historical fashion drawings and patterns.

young children modeling shirts and ties made of butcher paper and newspaper

Making shirts and ties from paper and tape helps children experiment with and understand scale and construction of clothing items

During library time, Librarian Judith Kantor shared folktales and stories about clothing with the class. She also a read nonfiction book about Amelia Bloomer, a women’s-rights activist who was involved in women’s clothing reform. Students began to see clothing as not only practical, but also as a way to express one’s individuality, values, and beliefs.

model for snow shoes made of cast off slippers and wire and cardboard
young child wearing outfit made of castoff fabrics and gold painted duct tape

Application of Knowledge

In the midst their investigations, the students decided they wanted to make clothes to help protect people from the most extreme weather: tornado, tsunami, drought, and blizzard.

The students spoke at length about ideas for their designs and ultimately drew representations in their sketchbooks.

Next, the students split into four committees to design clothes for different types of weather: extremely hot, extremely cold, extremely wet, and extremely windy. The committees worked together to make plans that incorporated their various ideas, which they brought to life in our school’s mini iSTEAM Lab.

They decided they would go public with their work by inviting their families and school community to a weather fashion show.

young child modeling outfit of castoff lampshade and fabrics and fly swatter and teacher clapping and smiling

The fashion show is a community event that pulls together all the learning and showcases the students’ creations, including backdrops that represent weather and a paper runway in the center of the classroom

Taking Action

In the midst of our discussions about clothing and its purpose, it came up that there are some people who don’t have as much clothing as others. We talked about what it might be like to not have a home and to not have the clothes needed to be comfortable in various types of weather. In response to this problem, the students decided to organize a clothing drive for the week of their fashion show. They collected clothes for Upward Bound House, an organization that helps homeless families.

four young children display hand painted sign advertising clothing drive
young children sitting on rug sorting donated clothing

Fashion show photos by Emily Grunfeld

All other photos by UCLA Lab School