Hand Sewing with Young Children



The Hand Sewing Progression chart below, was the organized result of teaching sewing skills to various ages of children at various stages of fine motor skills.

Toddlers love stringing large beads, tube pasta, even Cheerios!  Stringing is great for developing their eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. Some children, as young as four, desire to leave the stringing behind and move on to “real sewing”. Hand sewing is the logical place to start.

Last fall, I started Little Stitches, a hand sewing class for children ages 4 – 6.  As I prepared the curriculum, I wanted to be sure it was incremental, taking them gently from larger motor to finer motor sewing skills. This led me to organizing those skills in the following chart. Though this chart is not unique in its content, I think it is unique in visualizing the progression of these sewing skills. The first two columns are technically pre-sewing skills, but are still part of the overall process.

I continue to be amazed at the concentration and accuracy this age group exhibits in their handwork. Creating with needle, thread, and fabric is refreshing and rewarding for both the teacher and the student. : )

Hand Sewing Progression Chart



Huntington CO-OP Hand Sewing Club 2015

Busy hands/happy hearts.

Busy hands/happy hearts.

When preparing for the first Sewing Club (at a homeschool co-op in Huntington, instead of in my workshop) I knew I would need to prepare some visual aids to help the teachers AND the students see what we would be doing. ( And, I also just love making visual aids!)

We would start with the running stitch; this is the display I came up with.


The next month, we moved on to the overcast stitch, so I used a similar format for this display.


Another part of the preparation, was to make cute little fabric baskets to hold their sewing supplies (and double as a “trash holder”).  I remembered – too late- that if you want to talk to people, of any age, and have their undivided attention, don’t put something brand new and interesting right in front of them, and expect them to “hang on your every word”.  So, I removed the baskets and tried again to give them instruction. 🙂


This (see below) is part of the instruction I was wanting to give. Again, I made these for teacher AND student to keep us on task and keep important information before us. My goal was for us to read it together each week, til it was basically memorized. Reality was half of the kids were just learning to read AND we just didn’t have time to spare, since we only had them for 30 minutes. 🙂 So, at the end of the year, I included the laminated Check List/Sewing Rules in the little summer project bag each student received.

The encouraging part is we did cover everything on here, as we worked on each project, so I hope the skills will remain.

p1040166Hand Sewing Mini Checklist for students (printable)


It was a good learning experience for us all; can’t wait til the fall for the next round of Co-op Sewing Club.

Classical Writing Instruction: The Grammar Stage

(The following is a summary of information I gleaned from Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer.)

Grades 1-4: Writing With Ease      p1040167

Narration – Putting Thoughts into Words

  • Skill: holding words he has heard in his mind long enough to say them back/restate them.
  • Not asking for original ideas.
  • Not asking him to put his ideas on paper.

Copywork – Putting Words onto Paper

  • Skill: visualizing the sentence.
  • Requires labor, fine motor skills, and an understanding of the mechanics of writing.
  • Allows him to focus on the process itself, separate from figuring out what to say.
  • Allows the beginner to build the needed visual memory of what written language looks like.

Dictation – Putting the Visualized Sentence on Paper

  • Skill: holding the visualized sentence in his mind long enough to write it down.
  • Able to accomplish this because his mind is stocked with images of properly written language.
  • Not asking them to come up with ideas and also put them on paper.

Summary Thoughts:

You are concentrating on the mastery of the process of putting ideas into words and words onto paper.

You are not requiring original writing which requires “ideas into words; words onto paper” AND coming up with an original idea.  (Don’t discourage original writing; just don’t require it or “grade” it.)

Group description from one of our picture studies.

Group description from one of our picture studies.

I had the privilege of implementing these practices with several students during Writing Camp this summer. It was delightful to see them work diligently with each of these elements. We also had some fun with visualizing vocabulary from the day’s writing.









Unit Study Template

Creating a Unit Study                                         
To aid me in standardizing my ideas and practices for unit studies, I created this short mission statement.
• To expand knowledge through:  reading of real books.
• To expand knowledge through: increasing their vocabulary in various topics/subjects.
• To expand knowledge through: experience and hands on interaction with the topic/subject.
• To expand focus through: long observation and attention to the details of the topic/subject.
• To expand confidence and retention of knowledge: through narration, journaling, puzzles, etc.
• To encourage hard work and perseverance through: independent work assignments.

That led to the following template. This became a great organizational tool in my lesson planning last year when I was teaching a unit study on My Side of the Mountain.

(Check ‘On Their Own’ work)
Expanding Concentration and Observation Skills: Drawing copy work of the day.
Encouraging Laughter : “Mad Libs” on topic.
Enabling Retention: Narration, journaling, acrostics, puzzles, quizzes…
Extracting Background Knowledge: Play ‘Know/Want to Know’
Expanding Knowledge: Research topic of the day using ‘real’ books.
Expanding Awe and Wonder: Plant/animal of the day.
Expanding Experience/Curiosity/Confidence: Hands on activities.
‘On Their Own’ assignments

  • reading assignment
  • age appropriate research
  • vocabulary work
  • copy work
  • nature notebook entries


Take Time to Reevaluate Your Education Goals

Are we there yet?

Curriculum Coach

Though a dreaded and oft repeated question coming from children during long car rides, the good news is it reveals they realize there is a tangible ‘there’ to be arrived at.

I may often refrain from verbalizing it, but I feel the question in many areas of my life. Sometimes I can see the answer easily because the destination is near and tangible. But many times, like a child, I despair of ever arriving. I have either lost sight of where I am going or I have forgotten how to get there. Also, I can be so focused on ‘achieving the goal’ that I lose the ‘joy of the journey’.

As painful as it can be at times, I greatly benefit from taking the time to evaluate ‘where I have been and where I am going’. I encourage you to do the same for your school year, if you haven’t already. Make a point of recording your thoughts/answers.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What have I learned about myself as a teacher and my teaching style?
  • What have I learned about each of my children and their learning styles?
  • How has my view of homeschooling changed?
  • In what areas was I too hard on myself (and family)?
  • In what areas was I too easy on myself (and family)?
  • How have I grown in _____________?
  • How have my children grown in ____________?

Thankfully, there are many tangible goals that are ‘short term’ and give us great satisfaction and courage to carry on with the journey toward those that are very ‘long term’. Even in those long term goals, we can see and should acknowledge progress along the way.  Enlist the aid of the Triune God to see with His eyes and to keep your goals harmonized with His.

Then move on confidently with choosing the destinations for the coming year and the route you will take, by the grace of God, to arrive there with joy:)


More Than Just Playing Outside…

“The more I wonder…the more I love.” – Alice Walker

“Intelligence is not so much the capacity to learn as the capacity to wonder.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

“The world is full of magic things waiting patiently for our senses to grow sharper.” -John Keats

collage pictures for website 007

Too often when I am outside I am unaware, unappreciative of my surroundings.When children are around, I am ‘quick to slow down’.  I take the time with them to notice and appreciate the detail surrounding us.

It’s not that I don’t wonder ‘why this/why that’. It’s just that I am more motivated to allow myself the time to pursue the answers when I am helping a child learn and grow in wonder. I am thankful for how God uses children to keep me ‘childlike’.

Make time to enjoy God’s creation with the children in your life; recapture the wonder/amazement factor that comes when we “are still” and look with fresh eyes at what surrounds us daily.