Monday, March 25, 2013

Sewing Table-A Collaborative Fine Motor Experience


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.    


19 comments:

  1. Dana, what age group is this? Did you use regular (metal) needles or plastic needles? Do parents express concern that they might pinch/prick their fingers? Interesting, but makes me a tad bit nervous!!

    Carla M
    (Carlaroni@yahoo.com)

    Please take a peek at my pinterest boards: http://pinterest.com/carlaroni/

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  2. These are four year olds. For this activity we used plastic needles. We do use regular needles for felt and other fabric, but the plastic were able to work with this as the burlap holes are fairly large. We talk about safety with needles and occasionally a child will prick a finger, but that is part of learning how to sew. We have all done that when learning how to sew and learn quickly how not to. I have never had a parent complain about this and at our school the parents are in the class-so they could easily and quickly complain;-) Thanks for the question.

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  3. What an incredibly creative & yet so simple idea, thanks so much for sharing this, I have lots of burlap & wondered what to do with it. I'm off to share this post far & wide.

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  4. This is a really cool idea! It looks like they had a wonderful time.

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  5. I just tried to buy some burlap to do this type of activity with my son and I have to admit that I couldn't stand to hold the burlap in my hand and I couldn't stand the twitchy smell of it. My son is as sensitive so I ended up not buying it...any chance you know of a less itchy alternative? I got some cross stitch fabric but haven't had a chance to see if the plastic needle will go through it. Hoping that it will.

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  6. they sell the big plastic sheets with the square holes at craft stores, that could be a good alternative since it has relatively large holes for the plastic needles.

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  7. I've used netting before and you might try chicken wire. Thanks for the creative way to make it a group activity!

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  8. Love the idea too. I was thinking the same idea with texture and smell. I just saw on someone else's board - the non-skid rubberized material you put on shelves or under rugs.

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    1. I have tried this type of material before. If you pull the thread or yarn too tight, it can tear. I had used a cross stitch circle frame to hold the material when I presented it.

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  9. We have been doing a lot of sewing with our 5-year-olds and they love it! I love the sewing table. This may sound silly but is there a top on the table or is the table open in the middle so that the children are able to reach under the table as well?

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  10. It is not only a great fine motor work but look at the concentration. I bet the students also had collaborative conversations.

    I don't think I ever had a child pick their finger. They are smart enough to be careful if you give them a heads up.

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  11. Is their a bottom on the table so needle can go through, then be pushed up from the bottom, or do they need to control it in and out before pulling it through?

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    1. I'm interested to know this too!

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  12. Hi, I really loved your idea and i'm definately trying this on my homeschool. I was thinking, for safety reasons for the younger ones, that you could use colourful shoe laces, that have a pointy edge, like holding a needle, without being dangerous for their eyes. I'll give it a try and will give you a feed-back. Excellent idea!!Thanks!

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  13. You can also put the burlap or any loose weave material (old sweaters) onto an embroidery hoop. My son loved this when he was little! Renee

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  14. Hi. My table does have a bottom and the burlap was taped over the top. There is a 4 inch space between the bottom of the table and the top of the edge. The children did have to go under and out before pulling. It would be even better to have just a large free standing frame for this activity, but we all use what we have:-) Would love you to attach pictures here of what you have tried.

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  15. an old water table frame would work great here

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  16. Love it! What a great activity! Thanks so much for sharing.
    Alexandra Caio

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