I have had a picture tucked away in my “to do” binder for quite some time. It is of a little boy doing free style needle work on a loosely knit cloth that has been stretched over a seat-less piano bench. I loved the natural curiosity and the level of creativity that this activity freely gifted to this child. I have been in search of a cheap piano bench for several years without any luck….
However, one of my preschool parents asked what I needed and I shared this idea and a few days later a three-foot by five-foot weaving loom table was sitting in my garage……Happy Dance! Happy Dance! Happy Dance! 🙂
I went on a quest for the perfect loosely knit material so my tykes could just jump right in that same night. I found a vintage drapery at Good Will that just fit the bill. I dashed into Michael’s and scooped up six spools of ribbon and headed home to do a dry run…..
I am a kid at heart and although I hide behind the veil of “teacher tester”, I am actually dancing and squealing “Me First! Me First”, as I get the first crack at a new activity…..I am allowing a rare peek into my maturity level…..feel very honored……because I am such a pro at appearing all mature behind my “teacher tester” veil…..
The drapery is perfect for this project. However, it has sat on my kitchen counter for a few weeks because it just didn’t feel right after I took it for a trial spin. I realized that those precious little fingers could not weave with this drapery because it was beyond their ability…
They needed an easier canvas to learn what “up”, “down”, “through”, “over” and “under” literally mean. They needed a canvas that they could grasp and turn and learn to manipulate freely within their ability. They needed a smaller scale tool with larger holes and this beautifully perfect drapery was a larger scale tool with teeny tiny holes…..
So, I’ve been mulling over how to teach little hands how to weave from the most basic point of view. I can not take credit for this idea. I saw it on http://www.teachpreschool.org/2013/10/simple-sewing-jars/ last year.
Tonight while I was at Dollar Tree, I saw the room deodorizer jars and realized that these would be perfect for teaching my little tykes how to weave and sew. They even had wider ribbon in stock…..
High Score! I love Dollar Tree…. 🙂
I want to spare you from what I wished I had been spared….Those little beads are SMELLY…..STINKY…..and STRONG! I opened the first jar and made a b-line for the zip lock bags in the kitchen. I couldn’t get them dumped and the bag sealed fast enough. After all six were dumped, I washed them with hot water and dish soap. This helped some, but I am also going to let them air out over the weekend. So, if you plan to work with these little jars, do it outside on a windy day…..and stand down wind….
I tied the ribbon to the plastic needle so it wouldn’t come un-threaded a zillion times while the tykes worked with it. I made a huge knot at the end of the ribbon so it wouldn’t easily slip through the hole as they were sewing. I measured enough length to work through every hole. I didn’t want them to be overwhelmed with a lot of ribbon, but also wanted them to have enough ribbon to really freely explore. I will update this post after the tykes have had some time to explore with the sewing kits and let you know how it went and what I needed to alter…..
The goal is to help them learn how to move the needle and ribbon in and out and up and down and through all the holes well enough that they can begin weaving for the sake of weaving and creating a pattern and not be concentrating on the physical mechanics of manipulating the ribbon and the needle and the round frame all at the same time.
Preschoolers learn skills and concepts in stages….and it is my job to ensure that they have plenty of time to explore and master each stage. They simply cannot move forward until they have mastered the very basics.
Before a tyke can color, they have to understand what a crayon is by how it feels and smells and tastes and looks. Once they have a basic understanding of what a crayon “is”, they can move on to what a crayon can do. It can break, it can have its wrapper removed, it can make wonderful noises while being banged, and finally, it can make marks on a piece of paper. After a zillion marks have been made on paper, a child can begin to orchestrate the direction of the marks and the color of the marks and the reason for the marks as they create “a picture”…..
It is a huge process….it is a time-consuming process…..it can be a frustrating process for both the tyke and the teacher if enough time and experience is not freely given for the child to process and progress through each stage of development.
I can not express enough my heart ache when parents see their child’s intentional crayon or marker marks and only see scribbles. I can not express enough my heart ache when parents are gifted with great pride paper that has been cut into teeny tiny bits with a prized pair of scissors and only see future trash. All those zillion pieces of paper glued onto paper were glued on with great effort and intention and the child deserves to have their work and effort acknowledged…..
It’s fine to toss the projects when the child is no longer attached to the piece, but PLEASE honor and encourage and celebrate your child’s current accomplishments…..When they are honored and encouraged and celebrated, they will strive to achieve a higher level of skill mastery….
This is the goal:
To Work Deeper and Wider and to Apply Past Knowledge to Future Concepts so Learning is Achieved and Assessed Through the Creation of More Mature and Individualized Creations…….
Which brings me back full circle to realizing that the vintage drapery was developmentally inappropriate for my tykes and that I needed to find a way to start teaching them how to sew from step one before we can bring out that awesome weaving loom table and create some mighty awesome works of art……
All life skills have steps that must be learned…..Start with oversized tools until the basic knowledge is mastered….Add more complex details, one at a time…..
And most importantly, don’t forget to add some joy and fun and love and color into the mix!
Until next time,