Sewing is a great activity to do with young children to develop their fine motor abilities. I have a low table in the classroom with about a three inch lip all around it. I stapled and then duct taped a large piece of burlap to cover the entire table leaving a large community sewing surface. I then threaded and tied a needle full of colorful yarn to each corner.
The children then began exploring it and sewing in various directions.
When they used up their entire piece of yarn, we threaded another and tied it to another starting place.
This was added to everyday for a week. It was interesting to watch how different children sewed. Some made lots of small stitches, while others liked to travel with very long stitches. Some stayed in their area, while others moved around the table as they were sewing. This was extremely engaging for the children and we found that many of them stayed for extended periods of time often going through a few pieces of yarn. it was also quite a social experience as they chatted with friends while sewing.
They also looked at the piece with an artistic eye deciding which color yarn they wanted to use and where they wanted to sew. "There isn't any blue over here. I want blue!" By the end of the week a few were threading their own needles and starting to learn to tie knots as well. We also had a few scraps of burlap left, so some of the children went on to sew individual pieces that they took home.
When we were finished for the week, we took it off the table, trimmed off the tape and hung it on the wall of our classroom for us to enjoy. There is still a bakset on the shelf with some needles, yarn, burlap squares and beads for those who want to revisit the activity. Now I need to hunt for more burlap so we can do this again sometime. I think next time we may explore needlepoint thread or beads and other embellishments.