I have taught reed basket making to classes of fifth graders and to middle school students in an after school setting. They are fun to make and surprisingly easy once the kids get started!
I began by having them set up the shell of their basket using a base and some thick round reed to make ribs that stick straight up. Then we learned how to weave thinner reed in and out of the ribs to create the basket shape. In order to make the baskets more interesting, I dyed some of the reed different colors and provided wooden beads as accents.
We sometimes do project sharing with the baskets. Some students naturally weave more tightly, creating skinnier baskets, while others weave more loosely, creating wider baskets. If a student wants a different shape to his or her basket, I suggest that they find someone with a shape they like and trade with them for a little while.
While the kids struggle at the beginning of this project to get the hang of the under over weaving pattern, usually by the middle of their basket, they are into the weaving groove. Everyone is very proud of their completed baskets and they make an excellent gift for a family member.