Now that I have both of my children interested in learning some more sewing skills, I spent some time over the Christmas break re-reading the book Montessori Sewing in the Classroom by Aimee Fagan, a Practical Life Curriculum (for some inspiration). This book is for all children, ages two and a half to past six years of age.
Table of Contents;
- Preparing the Environment (tips on setting up a designated sewing space, sewing materials and a space for unfinished work)
- Preliminary Lessons (developing foundation skills such as finger strength and dexterity, scissor skills and eye-hand coordination). Lesson examples- bead threading on pipe cleaners and wire to make bracelets and necklaces.
- Early Sewing Lessons (reinforcing foundation skills as well as introducing new skills such as stitch practice, using the needle and sewing vocabulary. Lesson examples- practice Running Stitch and Whipstitch, threading a needle, tying a knot,
- Intermediate Sewing Lessons (implement the gathering aspect of sewing). Lesson examples- making felt pockets, bookmarks and finger puppets, stitching prepared shapes, embroidery work and cross-stitch on fabric.
- Advanced Sewing Lessons (complexity of the lesson increases as well as the level of difficulty of the actual sewing). Lesson examples- adding beads to embroidery. pillow making, free sewing ideas, making a drawstring bag, finger knitting and french knitting.
- Sewing Projects- such as a making a felt Peace banner, Herb-filled pillow, Embroidered tea towel and felt flowers.
Meaningful Work– If a child does not set a table for a group of people who are really going to eat, if he does not have real brushes for cleaning, and real carpets to sweep whenever they are used, if he does not himself have to wash and dry dishes and glasses he will never attain any real ability.- Aimee Fagan
I have been using Sewing in the Montessori Classroom for a couple of years now and have gained lots of ideas and inspiration. Aimee also has a Blog called This Practical Life which I think is worth taking a look at.
Both of my children do some basic sewing work at school in their Montessori classrooms, but have been asking to do more challenging sewing work at home. In my children’s classroom all of the sewing work is on a designated shelf space and in self-contained trays as the age group of children in the classroom is from 3-6 years of age. There are several trays that vary in difficulty.
When my children were younger, I had their basic sewing work (sewing cards or sewing a button on material for example) with everything they needed on the tray (self-contained) to isolate particular skills, but now, just like our art materials, we have my children’s sewing bits n pieces set out on a shelf for them to gather (self-gathering) what they need and want to work on and I feel this works well for us.
Gathering allows the child to be a constant problem solver. He asks himself “What materials do I need for this work? Which button shall I sew?” This opens the door to creativity instead of constraining his work to the materials on the tray, or even the initial lesson. As long as the child is using the materials respectfully and productively, he is free to create and follow his own interests. -Aimee Fagan
My youngest has been working mostly on;
- Threading a needle and tying a knot.
- Free sewing using linen cloth on a small embroidery hoop. Sometimes he sews on beads or buttons. We often use cotton or linen cloth in plain colours and sew with coloured embroidery thread.
- Cardboard lacing cards using coloured shoelaces.
- Just started using our wooden lucet fork to practice knitting.
My eldest has been working mostly on;
- Lucet fork knitting (still loves this work)
- Sewing projects, mostly making plush toys with felt
- Mending- small items gathered around the house (such as a sock with a hole) into a ‘mending basket’ for my children to work on
- Just started cross stitch. A friend gave my daughter a little kit to work on.
- Yet to work on- I have put aside two wooden knitting needles but we are yet to tackle this.
Materials we have on our shelf;
- Embroidery thread and needles (blunt and sharp tipped). I keep our embroidery thread in little glass jars. Access to the thread is via a hole in the metal lid of the jar. These jars are small baby-food jar size.
- Needle threader and pin cushion
- An empty wooden tray, for gathering items and taking it to wherever my children want to work, be it at a table or on the floor.
- A small glass jar of buttons and one for beads
- Wire and elastic for threading (making bracelets etc)
- Fabric- mostly cotton, linen and felt
- Small wooden embroidery hoop
- Lucet knitting fork
Further Reading- My past series of posts