Wool Academy 101

There are many different ways to think about wool. These resources and links can be used in any way that suits your teaching, from building them into lessons to using them alongside a visit from The Wool Shed, through to running a full term Fibre to Finished Product wool campaign. There are more ideas – just view or print the relevant pdf file.


Wool and the Curriculum


Is it really wool? Test different samples of fabric to see if they are actually wool. Here are some tests:

Match Test

1. Cut a small swatch of the mystery fabric, about 2 inches square. If your mystery fabric is in a garment, cut a swatch from the seam allowance.

2. Fill the small glass bowl with water.

3. Light the match.

4. Hold the fabric over the bowl and touch it with the lit match. Wool fabric will catch fire and burn steadily, though it is somewhat difficult to keep burning. When burnt, wool fabric will smell like burning hair.

Or watch this video of a Textile Fibres Burning Test – wool is at about 54 seconds – which highlights that untreated, natural wool is slow to burn.

Bleach Test

1. Cut small swatches of some mystery fabrics, about two inches square.

2. Place each swatch in a separate small bowl and cover with bleach.

3. Set the bowls in a well-ventilated area for eight hours.

4. Check the fabric swatches. Most natural fibres will disintegrate significantly, or completely, in strong bleach – wool being the fastest.

Read More


There is plenty of maths in wool, from counting sheep to calculating the profit on a year’s shearing and everything in between. You could spend some time using measurement, position and orientation to find the shepherds on this farm. Maybe there is a farm near you, so you could get a map that means more to the children.

Scale 2 squares to a kilometre

If you’re creating a Fibre to Finished Product school business there will be plenty of maths in costing your products.


Wool became important to our economy in the nineteenth century, with the development of sheep farming and the rise of big estates. Sheep numbers and the related industries peaked in the 1980s, when sheep numbers were around 70 million.

Today there are around 25,000 farms in New Zealand with about 28 million sheep spread across them. What is the place of wool in New Zealand’s future?


Imagine the life of Shrek, the New Zealand merino that hid in caves on a high country station and wasn’t shorn for six years. Put yourself in his shoes (or hooves) and write about his life, what it’s like on a high country station, how his woolly coat protected him from the weather, how heavy six year’s of wool must have been (it’s usually shorn off annually), what it was like to eventually be shorn, and the fuss that was made of him visiting towns and people up and down New Zealand.

Shrek the Sheep

Or create a Marketing Plan that identifies all the features of wool that would appeal to today’s consumers.


Here are some great links to help you trace the history of wool globally, and consider wool’s place in New Zealand’s history.

1. New Zealand first sheep released 1773

2. Department of Statistics – a look at export prices and volumes for wool over the years

3. The wool boom of 1951

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Article 2
Article 3


Pick a woolly project to make and keep, to give away or to sell. The internet is full of ideas, but here are a few to get your fingers twitching:

1. Video on felted slippers

2. Article on knitted slippers

3. Repurpose an old woollen sweater into a pillow

Article 1
Article 2
Article 3

Class project – each child makes a square, join them all together to make a woollen blanket. You could give it to someone in need or sell it at your school gala or quiz night. Make sure to highlight the benefit of it being 100% wool.

Design a woolshed for the future. Have a look at this award-winning design and read about the designer’s considerations.

Check it out


The process of wool making lends itself to all sorts of arts projects, from drawing and painting to creating something with wool.

Or the class could create advertisements for a Fibre to Finished Product business, highlighting some of wool’s attributes.