Monday, October 31, 2011

teaching textiles and sewing to young people

      Preschool and Kindergarten sewing activities that will improve eye-hand motor skills are a must. Below, I have listed the most common supplies that even a homeroom teacher may adapt for quiet time use with her small charges. Teachers should only supply large, plastic, round-tipped needles to children this young!
  • Lacing Cards
  • Stringing Giant Beads
  • Sew'n Sew (wooden sewing block)
  • Stringing cereal
Sewing activities for first through third graders may be similar to the above suggestions only slightly more complicated in nature.
  • Two-sided felt animals with pre-cut holes. Teachers can also craft projects like these using paper.
  • Stringing small beads
  • Stringing dried fruit or candy as a gift for a parent
  • Sewing decorative threads to pre-printed holiday cards
Sewing for fourth graders and up! Although there are many children younger than nine or ten who can sew, we suggest that teachers wait until fourth or fifth grade to introduce kids to sewing projects in the classroom. This is because sewing with sharp needles requires some mature accountability on the part of a student. Teachers need to be in charge of any artistic activities that involve this kind of risk taking. A sewing needle can seem harmless enough, but, there are many health risks involved when open wounds are probable, even when the wound is the size of a pin prick. So proceed with caution and write a note home or send an e-mail to your student's parents explaining that their child will be expected to conduct themselves appropriately with sewing materials in your classroom.

What should be included in a young student's first sewing kit?
  • A needle threader - Small fingers and inexperienced eyes can not always keep a needle threaded properly so, keeping a needle threader on hand is a very good idea.
  • A pincushion is sometimes included in a fancy little sewing basket. But, no matter what type of kit your student chooses, he or she should have a small pincushion included in it. Many teachers choose to assign a pincushion first before all other projects are considered. This is a traditional introductory lesson for any person learning to sew.
  • I prefer tiny scissors to a seam riper for children. A seam riper in a beginning sewing class or workshop for young children, is an accident waiting to happen!
  • A small variety of threads - Threads come in very small quantities at sewing shops. It is easy to find tiny spools of thread even in the grocery store. Black, white, navy, red, yellow, pink and pale blue cotton thread are all quite common in these small packs.
  • Sampling of buttons - Students will use odd buttons for decorative purposes or for practice in a beginning sewing class.
  • Her own needles - Students should never share their needles with each other under any conditions what-so-ever! Make this a class rule. The teacher may keep extra needles at her own desk for those students who forget their own. Students should not return the needle to the teacher after using it. In order to prevent the transfer of illness this rule must be reinforced in the classroom.
  • A white piece of chalk is needed for marking fabric. There are also fancy marking pens that older students may wish to purchase.
  • A small tape measure - This is a must even for little kids because it incorporates basic math skills into their sewing projects. Teachers may wish to print and cut these out to help save money on the kit supplies.
  • Band-aids are a must for a kit.
  • Antiseptic spray or an anti-biotic cream is also very important as well inside of any sewing kit. Those needle pricks will occur and they heal up fast with medicine on the spot.
  • A thimble
A simple plastic container with a lid may
be used by students learning to sew.
What should a sewing kit look like? A student's first sewing kit could be a simple basket, preferably with a lid or a small plastic container. Sometimes teachers prefer to purchase plastic containers all at once for a discount. This also guarantees that the kits will be of uniform size and appearance. Teachers may choose to stack kits neatly on a shelf during the school day. Some students are too forgetful to be trusted with bringing a sewing kit to class when it is needed. Boys can also be a bit self-conscious about packing a sewing kit into their backpacks as well. Personally, I prefer to give the task to the student of "scouting out" their own sewing kit. I believe that individuality and personal choice should be rewarded to a child's artistic pursuits whenever possible. Encourage the girl who wishes to purchase a small attractive basket or an unusual box for her first sewing kit. Have examples of many small kits on hand to show your students the possibilities. Make sure that several of these samples are not too feminine in appearance or very expensive to collect.
      Here is a linking list to several versions of sewing kits that parents may acquire for their children to use. These kits make wonderful birthday gifts for a young girls. I've also included a few links to historical versions of sewing kits as well.
      If you are a parent homeschooling your children and wish to teach sewing skills, you may consider gifting a child with a kit designed for sewing fishing lures. A bait and tackle box is an excellent alternative for a child who prefers this form of entertainment. Sewing skills need not be about clothing. This would also be an excellent winterum course for middle school students after Christmas break in a private school. These brief courses are usually taught for fun and faculty members are always on the look out for new ideas. Girls frequently gravitate to small needlework or quilting classes. However, for those students less inclined to sewing garments or fancy work, bait and tackle boxes have fun possibilities. These make great gifts for a dad if sons or daughters don't fish. If you intend to teach this type of course make sure that you acquire a good quantity of feathers and specialty products along with a basic manual before starting. There are actually films available that give instructions for crafting lures as well. Make sure that you have some "fish stories" and other fun activities to mix in with the threading or your student(s) may take a nap, well, it is fishing.

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