This week one of my returning students asked when I was going to put out our sewing table. I told her that it would definitely be out later this year. In my mind I was thinking that it's too early in the year for most children to be ready for the sewing table. I bought the table last spring with some fundraiser money and so it was only out for a few weeks before school ended. It is a really cool addition to the classroom but was very teacher-intensive. However, I didn't have any preliminary sewing activities out last year and that may have partially accounted for the high level of teacher assistance the children needed. So my wheels started turning thinking about what I could put out now that would prepare the children to use the sewing table later this year. This past summer I had picked up a bag of odd-sized plastic canvas scraps at my favorite thrift store (see photo below). (You can also buy this in large sheets for not much money at most large craft stores.) I knew that I wanted to use them somehow in the classroom and was planning to put them out with some plastic Rexlace as a weaving/sewing activity. Then I had a brainstorm this week and decided to add plastic buttons to sew onto the plastic canvas to make the activity even more appealing.
I cut the scraps into small squares and rectangles and placed them into a basket on a tray along with a basket of buttons that I found in my cupboards at school and a bowl of Rexlace cut into small pieces and knotted on one end.
To do this work the child take the tray to a table and select one lace, one button and one piece of plastic canvas. Then they return the tray to the shelf so other children can simultaneously do this work.
.........and pull the button flush to the canvas.
To secure the button the extra length of lacing can be woven through the holes a few times as shown here.
I plan to put this work out on the Practical Life shelves next week. I haven't road tested it on any preschoolers yet so we'll see how well they can do it once they start trying it. Another thing I may add to the tray is a bowl of pony beads which can be sewn onto the canvas. Hopefully this will be a perfect first sewing activity which will lead to more advanced work and ultimately the sewing table. If you have any great ideas for sewing activities with young children in a group setting, please leave a comment. THANKS!