Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Toddler Room - Sewing 1

I introduced sewing to several of my toddlers two weeks ago and it has been such a hit. Initially, it was challenging for them to use both hands - one for holding the piece of burlap and the other for holding the needle. Too, they had to turn the burlap over each time the needle was poked through and then pull it out the opposite side. Their fine motor skills and eye/hand coordination were working hard. Yet, they were dedicated to mastering the act of sewing a line or a zig zag variation of a line.

Before I write anymore, let me first go back to the basics - the materials prepared for this sewing work.

A small tin for housing the plastic tapestry needle and thread. Several pre-cut pieces of burlap. Using a permanent marker, dash marks were made up the length of each - a guide for the child sewing.

The needle and one of the bundles of thread housed in the tin. 

I tied the thread to the needle. This prevented the thread from slipping out of the eye.

I also made the first stitch and then knotted the end of the thread to the piece of burlap. 

When I gave a child their first lesson on sewing, I named the needle and its eye. I also took the bundle of thread, unwound it and then carefully guided it through the child's closed fist so they could feel it and its length. Below, you can see a child repeating this independently. As they pull the thread up through the fabric with one hand, the other holds onto to the thread and feels it pull through their hand.

Too, when they pull the thread through and upwards, it is that reach of their arm - that length - that captures so much about the significance of this good work, as does that look upward.

The toddlers now sew everyday. Here are just a few photos of them doing so.

Here is one of the finished pieces:

Last week, I introduced sewing cards. These were much more challenging. The stiff needle for poking through the holes was absent. In its place was thread or lace with a plastic tip. This was hard for the children to manage as it often fell back out of a hole they attempted to push it through. Also, the cards weren't flexible like the burlap. This lack of flexibility resulted in the children placing the cards on the table and attempting to lace or sew it. This resulted in frustration - when they poked the thread through the hole it bounced back out when it hit the table. After much effort and determination, they figured out how to use both their hands, as with the burlap and needle, and to manipulate the sewing card and the thread/lace simultaneously. An amazing feat for a toddler. After a card was sewn/laced and the child returned it to the shelf, my assistant, or I, removed it, pulled the thread/lace back out of each hole and then re-placed it back on the shelf ready for the next child to use. In a few months, perhaps they will do this themselves.

Such focused work. Beautiful...all of it. 

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