Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Teaching Children How to Sew -The First Stitch

Teaching sewing is one of my favorite Practical Life activities in the classroom.  It requires such concentration that the child naturally slows down and tunes out what is going on around them.  Many a peaceful afternoon has been spent with my entire afternoon class sitting around a table and working on various sewing projects. 

Most three year olds however do not come into the classroom ready to wield a needle which is why the first step in sewing involves no needle at all. Bead stringing is how I introduce sewing work!  This work is constantly out in my classroom -the kids love making bracelets and necklaces (which they are allowed to take home).  We vary the materials for stringing throughout the year to keep it interesting.  

  • Yarn cut into 6-8" lengths with a small piece of masking tape tightly wrapped on one end (I have parent volunteers do this) 
  • beads -can be plastic, pasta with an opening larger than the yarn, cut pieces of straw, paper -let your imagination run wild! Clothes pin. 

  • Before showing this to your child, do a test run.  You'll want to make sure that the yarn can easily pass through the beading materials.  If it doesn't then the child will get frustrated & likely give up.  Wrapping the yarn end with tape takes a bit of practice, but you are aiming for a shoelace effect. 
  • Clip the untaped end of the yarn with the clothes pin.  This will keep the beads from falling off during the stringing process.  Why a clothes pin? Because I have too many students to tie knots on the ends!  Even my youngest children can clip the yarn themselves and the goal is for them to do as much as possible for themselves.  
  • Moving slowly, demonstrate how to push the taped end of the yarn through the hole.  It shouldn't take long before your little one is itching to take over.  Let them loose to create! 
  • When they are satisfied, remove the clothes pin and tie the ends together with a simple double knot.  Don't be afraid to remove a few beads if you need more length to tie a knot. Voila -a bracelet!
There are many variations of this activity.  One that is on my shelf right now is a collection of heart-shaped beads and a piece of Rexlace.  These beads do not go home with the child once strung!  You can buy or create a lacing set with wooden pieces and a shoe lace.  My own daughter's first bead stringing work as a toddler was large wooden craft beads she would put on a wooden spoon!

No matter what materials you choose, the goal is to strengthen the hand-eye coordination needed to string one material through another.

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