Thursday, June 10, 2010

Children's Button Projects & Tie Dyed Halter Tops

It is a sad time for me at KAF :-(
Only one more week of classes with my precious students.....
I will sorely miss the children and the classroom. I have so many more things I want to share with them!

This week KAF received an order of supplies from Blick and in that order was a fabulous assortment of buttons! One of the things that I have found with all of my students in the two years of teaching fiber arts is the lack of their ability to tie knots. With the invention of velcro and it's convenience, many children do not need to learn to tie their shoes. It is seriously affecting some of their fine motor skill development! I have struggled with any project that requires the tieing of knots which is a basic skill for many applications of fiber and traditional arts.

For all age levels, this weeks classes included the use of stitching and knotting. My students ages range from 5 to 10 years old and the age of the students ability to tie knots used in projects for their age level doesn't seem to matter in their ability or inability to get the concept of and executing knot tieing. Although the older group with a bit of practice gets it, it doesn't always come easy :-) They just don't have the need to tie knots in their young lives so lack practice.

The 5 & 7 yr old groups this week stitched buttons onto burlap to create picture frame decorations. They used pearl cotton and colorful buttons which I asked them to select keeping the color wheel in mind. Young children will often choose an item for a project based solely on the one item and how much it attracts them. They have not yet learned how to consider how each choice affects the whole. In this lesson, we not only learned to stitch on buttons and tie knots to fasten them but we practiced what I call informed choice.
These groups did a terrific job! I actually had the youngest ones stitch and knot each button on individually. I felt that this way they would have less to think about; no worries of stringing along several buttons in a row and getting tension right , not to mention the possibility of tangling the thread up in the work. And there would always be a good stopping point at the end of class. This seemed to work very well. It also meant that they got to experience using scissors for something other than cutting paper. I asked them to stitch on a button and knot it on the back side but one inovative student chose to knot on the front, being very careful to cut the threads all the same length so that the threads were part of her design concept. I'm not sure she realised this, but she knew instinctively that this is what looked best. That child has a good eye! I am always happy when a student shows such insight. Good Job Amy!
The only disappointment for these children is that I didn't let them take their projects home this week. I held them to complete a special farewell gift for them that you can see in next week's posting :-)

So, the 5 yr olds did remarkably well with this project! I never can predict what things they will have trouble with. They all have varying degrees of ability and concentration. Some stitched more buttons on than others and some made knots that looked like they were tied by an adult! They basically all got it.... In fact the littlest one was one of the best performers! Well done Sam! And one other child in this group finished early enough to move on and finish a bookmark. So Sam, Amy and Aishling got the gold stars this week! Having said that, they are all stars and I try to tell each of them what a good job they do each time we meet. I'm sure I don't do it often enough! We all know that praise is always welcome and just the fact that they come to class and make any effort at all to accomplish their task is a big deal for young children. Life is too busy to early these days!

The 7 yr old children enjoyed this project as well. I pushed this group to think about the overall design when selecting their buttons and threads. Each one is different and they all did a great job. They too were disappointed to not be able to take it home but are looking forward to their surprise next week. This group has a longer class so they were able to also go on and make button braclets using elastic thread as a fastener.

I love the way these projects turned out! To see the various designs that came from each student using the same materials is inspiring! This group has gotten better at their knot making over time and I found I had to direct them very little in this task. Mission accomplished!

The older girls this week are nearly all finished their tie dyed halter tops. These are adorable! Last week they dyed the cloth and began stitching the straps on. What a challenge stitching is or can be! Not only are they practicing fine motor skills and precision in their stitching but they have to think about spacial relationships between stitches and practice consistency in stitch length all while making sure their needles don't come unthreaded. And of course they have to try to conceal their stitches in some places or keeping their work neat while anchoring and embellishment and then there is the task of knotting the threads so their work doesn't come apart. Let's not forget to be careful not to get unwanted fabric caught in the stitches too! Phew!!! So this was all about practice and I am always telling my students, practice makes better because no one is perfect; not even the teacher :-)
Only one student finished her piece since she chose a simple design embellishment that didn't require alot of stitching, but the others are very close and will complete theirs in our last class of the term. There's that sad ending again :-(

So until next time.......

No comments: