Most days there is some sewing happening in our class. We try to have a logical sequence of activities that call to children at different ages and stages, and a variety of works that allow everyone in the class to participate and create
I find sewing to be such a versatile area of the Practical Life curriculum. While yes, I can continue to make endless variations of pouring works, and repeated practice with pouring will no doubt help the child develop independence, improve eye-hand coordination, and will increase his self-confidence and concentration. There is something about engaging the child in creating a meaningful product with his hands – even if it as simple as stringing pony beads on yarn or sewing a line on burlap – it can focus the most unfocused child in a matter of moments.
Finger knitting is a lesson that I usually reserve for the kindergarteners – I have given the single finger knitting lesson to second years with some success, but often the child becomes frustrated and I end up pairing them with a more experience kindergartener to help finish the project.
My basic setup is as follows:
- A basket with an open weave
- a ball of yarn with the tail coming out of one of the holes in the weave of the basket *
- small pair of scissors tucked in basket
* Keeping the ball in the basket with the tail coming through the weave keeps the ball from rolling away as the child is working – roaming balls of yarn tend to be a big distraction in the class.
There are two main ways to finger knit and we do both in our class. The method I introduce first is single finger knitting – making a cord with one finger.
This site provides a much better description and far better illustrations, for singe finger knitting, than I could manage.
Children often make these cords when they want straps for the pouches they have sewn, or they want bracelets, necklaces, belts, and random cords hanging of their clothing – you know, the usual 5 year old embellishment.
The second method of finger knitting is the multi-finger method. I will admit to using a little story when teaching this method. One trick that I use when starting is I tie the loose tail of yarn to the child’s thumb. This keeps the beginning stitches from being to loose and that way the child won’t mix up the working end of the yarn with the tail end.
Here are the basics for multi-finger finger knitting, in video form:
This is the way I have always taught finger knitting (which has really only been for six years). When I was searching for this video, I saw lots of people winding the yarn back and forth between their fingers, I personally have no experience using that method.
The story I use is that the child is the farmer and the first loops around their fingers are the sheep. The silly sheep keep escaping, so they have to build a fence (lay yarn back across hand), but those sheep, they just jump over the fence (take bottom yarn, which is the loop around the finger, move it over the top yarn and off the finger, repeat for all fingers), so the farmer builds another fence, and so on.
It is always so sweet to over hear their conversations while they are working, “No, no, your sheep has to go over the fence.”
The child can adjust how wide they want the knitting to be by how many fingers they use. Even if they only use one finger, this method produces a very different knit than the single finger knitting.
Finger knitting is a work that at first requires more teacher (or older child) guidance, and still many of my experienced finger knitters ask for help getting situated at the start. I am happy to provide the help because I believe that using the hands to create offers the child a wonderful way to focus the self and the mind. It is often difficult to find meaningful ways to engage older children in practical life, many of whom truly need these works to develop their inner focus and compass, but I find sewing and finger knitting to be one route that can engage and challenge the older primary child.
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