A few weeks ago, several folks asked me for more information about teaching stitchery to kids. Finally I am getting around to posting that information.
This photo is of my granddaughter when she was four and a half. She is stitching a little foam purse that I bought at the craft store. It has pre-punched holes and you just stitch from hole to hole. She was fully engaged doing this.
At school the kids use burlap and the fat plastic needles. Normally we tape the edges of the burlap so they do not unravel. You can see in the pieces that are not taped what a mess the edges become.
I'm still experimenting with teaching preschool stitchery. Usually I give them a small piece of burlap and let them experiment with the running stitch. If anyone has any suggestions for preschool stitchery, please pass them along!
Kindergarten stitchery involves the running stitch and following a line. If I had a 5 year old alone, I'd teach threading and knotting. Teaching these en masse was a slow trudge with frustration and tears. (After a few of those experiences I got my fifth graders to thread and knot hundreds of needles in preparation for kindergarten.) The students draw on the cloth and use a running stitch around the sides of the cloth and the outline of their drawing. The year they were studying insects, I had kids trace a butterfly shape. They were observing the hatching of chicks the year they drew and stitched chicks.
First graders are studying plants during stitchery time, so they draw and stitch flowers. First graders try to perfect the running stitch and add on the threaded and double threaded running stitch. Sometimes I have them color their designs with non-toxic markers.
Second graders study animals during stitchery time. They continue with the running stitch and its variations plus add the couching stitch.
I do not have images of third grade stitchery, as usually I have them weaving. When we do have time for stitchery, they learn the running stitch, couching stitch, cross stitch, satin stitch. They can often master any other stitch I introduce to them.
Fourth grade students paint designs on their burlap with tempera paint. I prefer the liquid tempera, but we have used block tempera as well. I haven't tried watercolor, but I would guess it would be fine. I have lots of samples of stitches out for this age, and they are game to try any of them. These are the most used: running stitch and threaded running stitch, cross stitch and double cross stitch, couching stitch, chain stitch, french knot, satin stitch, and back stitch.
Once the kids get the painted (or drawn ) images on the cloth, they are motivated to stitch for hours on end.
I love teaching elementary stitchery. They seem to find great satisfaction in using their hands and creativity in a way they are not used to.
Tearing Straight Edges from a Roll of Paper - Katie Morris, over at Adventures of an Art Teacher, teaches how to tear bulletin board paper so it doesn't get all crazy edged.