I’ve never been accused of taking the easy route. That was especially true today! I decided to try sewing with first graders today. The project began with the idea of creating lacing boards. I initially explored making them on our Carvey machine, but in the end, it took too long to be practical to make them for all of the first-grade students. So, I started exploring other options. To be clear, I have never done sewing with first graders, but I thought that they could do this project if they worked on concentration and focus. So, I started by reminding them of these two words. I’m actually impressed with how well they turned out given their lack of experience with the tools.
I began by showing them a completed project; I just so happened to have made a few in preparation for today as gifts for my amazing library associate and my wife.
Step one is to trace the outline of the heart on a folded piece of cardstock.
Step two is to use your needle to punch holes. I showed the kids how to hold the section of the paper they are ‘punching’ with the needle over the edge of the table. This helped them have control over the needle a bit more. The second time I introduced this, I decided to have the kids space their holes apart by the width of their finger.
Step three is to use the threaded needle (we pre-threaded a ton of tapestry needles to speed this initial stage up a bit) from underneath through the cardstock. This lets the large knot at the end ‘stick’ on the back of the card.
Step four is to begin ‘sewing’ up and down through the various holes. I did not tell them to do a set pattern but instead, let them choose. It was interesting to see who struggled with keeping the thread untangled or remembering to go up and down not ‘around’ the card. These are great lessons to learn on cardstock because you can easily ‘fix’ it by going back through the hole.
Caden created a very interesting pattern with three different colors of thread.
We folded the second piece of cardstock and glued it on the inside to ‘hide’ the stitching on the inside of the card.
We couldn’t give the students really long pieces of embroidery floss because it was apt to get tangled, so we just tied off the floss underneath and then re-threaded the needle with their choice of color. This ended up creating some beautiful contrasting layers.
All in all, this was a big success. They now have an introductory project under their belts and when we learn all about buttons in our inquiry project, they’ll be ready to learn to sew their own 3d designed and printed buttons!
NOTE: In later classes, one of the kids chose to stitch around the outside rather than across. It turned out that in some ways that were easier for the kids to do. So, we had our last class of the day start with that and then early finishers could add the cross stitching. Turns out that very few had time to add the extras and that was just fine. A good example of ‘going with the flow’ for both kids and our parent volunteers.We also figured out that we could tape the end of the thread on the inside if it were too short to tie off. This was a very handy thing because many kids ended up only having a tiny bit of thread left.