Sewing for kids: Where we are at 3 years old
When Z was 2.5 years old, we did bead stringing as part of the Montessori practical life curriculum. As he was still very young, I used huge beads borrowed from our Ikea roller coaster toy with a shoelace. He was very successful in this.
About three months later, I introduced the Melissa & Doug animal lacing activity to him. Boy, this was so frustrating for both him and me, and I just couldn’t figure out why.
He is way past the huge (and medium) bead stringing activity, but couldn’t yet do the M&D animal lacing. I just brushed it aside thinking that I would re-introduce it to him later on.
Ever since then, we haven’t done much lacing or sewing activities, and even though I’ve always wanted to pick it back up, I had no idea where to start or how to troubleshoot what I’m doing wrong.
We have been stuck in a sewing rut.
Enter the book “Sewing in the Montessori Classroom: a practical life curriculum“, which I was given for free in exchange for an honest review.
(Update: We are now (Z is 4 years old, M is 9 years old) going back to the basics in sewing, click here to see some of the activities both boys are doing.)
The benefits of sewing for kids
Before I talk about the book, I want to first draw your attention to the intrinsic benefits of a simple activity like sewing.
You see, the one thing that I’ve noticed when Z works on sewing is a tremendous amount of focus — the kind that of concentration that makes him pout naturally because he’s too engrossed in his work.
Have you ever experienced that as an adult? I know I’ve been so entrenched in a book, or perhaps an activity as simple as drawing or painting, that it feels like I’ve been holding my breath the whole time. It always feels so satisfying to the spirit!
I had forgotten how important Montessori practical life activities are in this specific aspect.
In particular, the beauty of an individual activity as simple as sewing can bring such satisfaction and sense of accomplishment to a young child’s spirit.
(Not to mention the bonus of being trained to concentrate deeply, which will undoubtedly benefit him when he goes to public school later on!)
My first impression and feelings about this book
Before I received the book, I was afraid that it might contain a lot of activities geared towards older preschoolers or young elementary children who had more hand and finger dexterity. In fact, I asked the author Aimee Fagan if this book is geared towards kids as young as the newly-turned-three.
This book blew me away with its attention to detail. The author was careful to cover the basics in the beginning, from shelf preparation to the basic materials needed (not just a list, but opinions and tips based on her experience.)
I found this photo on page 20 and read the contents around it, and a lightbulb lit in my head. I finally understood what I’m doing wrong with Z. I wasn’t sequencing the difficulty properly for him, thus we are both met with frustration and total abandon of the skill.
How we have used this book at home
How I have used the book personally, as a parent and teacher:
- To understand the sequence and be able to diagnose which level Z is in right now and where he needs to continue practicing before moving on to the next level.
- He is technically still stuck at the same level as before, which is in the early stages of sewing (according to the book’s categorization). But the difference is now I have a whole lot more confidence because I know what I’m doing and where to go once he has mastered this stage.
What Z (3 years old) has done in the past, is able to do now, and where he needs more work:
What stays on our practical life shelf:
- I am including this selection on our shelf for practice.
In a nutshell, this book is great for those who homeschool or even as an after-schooler. It helps to break the process and skills of sewing down so that you know exactly where and how to present an appropriate challenge for your child. As you can see from our experience, it was easy to do a quick test to see which level the child is at, where he needs more practice, and what we can look forward to doing in the future. I highly recommend this book!