Sewing was a familiar and practical skill in our house when I was a girl growing up in the 60’s. My paternal grandmother was a seamstress for the furrier department of Eaton’s department store; my maternal grandmother embellished linens and clothing with colourful cross-stitched needlework; my mom sewed beautiful dresses for herself and her four daughters. Today, as a teacher and a mother, I now find pleasure in passing along the art of sewing to children.
A Calming Influence
There is a peaceful, meditative state experienced in the quiet and repetitive motions that come with guiding a needle and thread through fabric. The ability to slow down and still both the body and the mind is significant and transformative for young children. For a child of three or four years old, there is a visible change in the posture and visage: soft, open and tranquil.
A Fine Art
Sewing requires precision: In the measuring, cutting, threading, knotting, and patterning. Ones hands need to be both strong and supple to manipulate the slim needle and fine thread; the development of fine motor skills assist in the refinement of movement required.
A Skill for Boys and Girls
The first attempt to thread a needle and learning how to stitch in an up and down motion can be challenging. I often find myself suppressing a chuckle when I see one of the children, their little pink tongue poking out, intently focused on trying to get the thread through the tiny hole of an embroidery needle. Persistence and perseverance allow for the practice necessary, then one day, the thread finally goes through the eye of the needle.
At the moment of success with a new skill, the child’s eyes beam with pride and accomplishment. With time, sewing becomes familiar, bringing ease and joy to the process, and a new outlet for creativity has begun with another generation.
Here are some Montessori sewing activities you can do at home:
(in order of difficulty for ages 3 to 6)
Threading beads: shoe lace, beads
Safety pins: felt shapes, various sizes of safety pins
File Sewing: hole puncher, clips, yarn, scissors, large blunt tapestry needle, coloured construction paper
Plastic Lacing: plastic lacing cut into small shapes, embroidery thread or fine yarn, small blunt needle (small enough to go through holes in plastic), scissors
Button Sewing: buttons (dollar store has various colours and sizes), embroidery hoop (4” diameter is good size), fabric squares (cut a little larger than hoop), thread, scissors, long sharp needle with large eyehole
Bead/Sequin Sewing: coloured felt cut into shapes, coloured beads and sequins (not too small), long sharp needle (thin enough to go through holes in beads), thread, scissors
Purse: coloured felt cut into shape desired for purse, long sharp needle (large eyehole), embroidery thread, regular thread, buttons (cut hole to fit button size), scissors, straight pins
A child who is transitioning from a childcare program into an educational setting can experience significant physical and emotional changes. Childcare is primarily custodial in nature, providing the basic needs for safety and wellbeing, whereas preschool and kindergarten have an educational focus.
Attending school for the first time brings with it new experiences, new teachers, a larger class size, and peers older in age. The physical environment is big and new, with desks and educational materials vs. the familiar toys at daycare. Continue reading
The Montessori classroom is an educational environment enriched with materials representing geographical aspects of the world: the globe, puzzle maps, flags, land and water forms, animal figures, and nomenclature cards.
Turning the conceptual idea of geography into a concrete concept
The hands-on work with the geography materials offers children a concrete sensorial experience, attaching meaning and value to real-life physical environments. Continue reading
Children love science!
Topics ranging from the solar system to dinosaurs to volcanoes have strong appeal. It is equally important for young children to have the opportunity to learn and practice the scientific study of experimentation: the tools, the procedures, the vocabulary and analysis.
Preschoolers have a natural attraction to the principle of cause and effect. We often observe a two or three year old pour the contents of a container out onto the floor simply to see what will happen: Will the objects bounce? What will it sound like? Will something new be revealed? The child is intuitively doing an experiment: a test done in order to learn something, or to discover if something works. Continue reading
In the Montessori classroom children practice how to be self-sufficient, self-supporting and self-reliant.
The specialized learning environment promotes the physical, emotional and cognitive development children need to become independent. The tables and chairs are child-sized; the shelves are low and easy to reach; the materials are colour-coded and built for small hands. Continue reading
As spring approaches, parents and teachers are beginning to think about and make plans for the next school year. The 3 ½ to 4 year olds are growing like weeds and will be even taller when they return for their second year of Montessori in the fall. There will be a whole new group of 2 ½ to 3 year olds who will begin their first year in September.
Consider, for a moment, the start of each school day to be a new beginning. Each morning is a clean slate. Each action you choose can potentially have a powerful and meaningful impact on the day.
Punctuality is a good place to begin; it opens up endless avenues for growth and learning.
When a child consistently arrives at school on time, she/he benefits from the following opportunities: Continue reading
Each year on the last day of November, my husband, son and I make our own advent calendar that has been passed down in our family for generations. It is a colourful paper chain that we hang from the ceiling and use to count down the days until Christmas. One can be made for the whole family to share and hang in the main room of your home, or each child can make their own. I grew up with 3 siblings, so each of us had our own chain hanging by our bed. Continue reading
One crisp autumn day Lucy and her parents decided to go mushrooming on Mount Arrowsmith. The weather conditions were perfect: it was damp and cool after a week of rain and fog. The family hiked along the hard-packed trail for a stretch, then veered off the path and headed deeper into the forested canopy. Lucy loved this family ritual of hunting and gathering wild mushrooms each year. She used a short sturdy branch as a walking stick and peered under fallen tree logs and layers of moss for the hidden treasures. Lucy’s mom always knew the best places to look for edible species and how to identify them. Lucy’s dad carried the basket with their harvest. It didn’t take long before they found two varieties: a handful of golden chanterelles poking out of the wet moss beside a large rock outcropping, and large red lobster mushrooms under the base of a Hemlock tree. Continue reading