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Quilts + Math

 In a recent math lesson, we explored design and fractions using quilt blocks.  This open ended activity allowed the students to be creative and inquisitive while trying their hand at quilt design.
I had a stack of precut squares as well as some simple pieced blocks for the kids to "design" their own quilt squares.  They really got into it!
While some worked alone, several paired up.  Discussions about hot and cool colors, patterns, and symmetry were heard.
I also encouraged the kids to think about fractions.  Quickly, they discovered that they could fold the squares into smaller shapes and fit them together.  Look, it's fourths!
The second station was to recreate a quilt square using geoboards.  This activity was a little more challenging than they thought!  They discovered that a quilt is made of shapes sewn together.  We looked at actual pieced squares that included triangles, squares, and rectangles to create a single block.
I set out a few quilting books, and let them look through them to find a good square to recreate.
By the end of the activity, they were all wanting to quilt for real.  We may have a class quilt project on our hands.  I'll keep you posted!


Sleepy Bear Workhops for Kids

Sleepy Bear Workhop
Saturday, April 26, 1-3pm
Sew Memphis

Cuddle up with a Sleepy Bear!

Boys and girls ages 7 and up will enjoy stitching up one-of-a-kind bears to call their own. Join Amie Plumley, co-author of the Sewing School book series for kids, as she instructs your child through a fun project that combines machine and hand sewing. (Younger children may attend with adult friends; each adult/child pair needs only to sign up for one spot.)

While some materials will be provided, each sewist will need to purchase/provide 2 fat quarters of cotton or flannel fabric and sewing machine thread. These items will be available at Sew Memphis at a 10% class discount. Participants may bring their own machines or sign up early to reserve shop machines.

[photo credit: Justin Fox Burks]

Kid-Sewn Easter

I just added some of my favorite Easter sewing ideas to the sidebar.  OK, so the chocolate nest isn't sewing, but it's so yummy!  These springtime projects are simple and worth repeating, don't you think?! 

Hope you are seeing signs of spring wherever you are!

Hungry Caterpillar Story Necklace

Somehow I have gotten obsessed over this idea of "story necklaces" for kids.  A necklace that you can string together and it will tell a story, plus, you can wear it!  Perfect for quick retellings.  I guess it's like a story quilt, but more portable and personal. 

Anyway, I became obsessed with a Very Hungry Caterpillar Story Necklace.  My fellow Toddler Sewing Club teachers and I brainstormed over the best ways to design and execute the project.  We knew that it had to be doable for toddlers, include some element of sewing, and be on the up and up with Mr. Carle.  We decided to focus on what the caterpillar ate and use solid colors to differentiate between the various foods.
I found this great official coloring page and went to town breaking apart the individual food items onto a single page and then blowing them up on the copier and then copying the individual foods onto colorful cardstock.  Truth be told, my method took FOREVER and at one point I had a total Martha Stewart moment where I realized that I was spending way too much time on the copying and cutting, but at that point, there was no turning back!  If you have a scanner, which I do not, I will assume that this part of the process will be much simpler. 
Once you have the individual foods,  cut around them leaving some edge and then punch two holes into each picture.  This makes them into little buttons.  At some point, we decided to make the "stomachache" picture all one big blob instead of a bunch of little pictures.  Not only was this easier prep work, but was easier for the toddlers to sew.
Yay, the project was a success!  The kids loved them and so did the parents.  After reading the story to the group, everyone got a little baggie filled with all the pieces and a lacing string threaded with a plastic needle.  We had lots of copies of the book on hand so that the kids could find the pictures of the food in the book and then string them on the necklace.  While some kids just strung away and didn't follow the story, it was all good.  They were still learning and having fun.  They proudly showed off their necklaces and talked about which foods were their favorites.

As I'm sure you are thinking, this would be a great project for older kids as well.  I can't wait to make story necklaces with my second graders based on their own original stories!
We really packed a lot of good learning and skills into this project.
* Fine motor skills using a needle and threading it through the two holes.
* Color discrimination and names.
* Story sequencing.
* Story retelling.
* Counting with the holes in the pictures and number of items.
* Pride in finishing a new project and the joy of wearing it home.
* Cooperation with parents and siblings.
* Matching of pictures in the story to that in their necklaces.

Who says you can't learn a lot from sewing?!

A Sweet Fabric Cross


In Sewing Club, we made these simple fabric crosses in preparation for the Easter season.  They turned out so cute and may be hand or machine sewn.
Our cross pattern is about the size of a piece of paper and has curved corners instead of sharp points.  These curves proved to make it easier for the kids to cut and sew.
Here are two sides cut and ready to sew together.  We used some heavier decorator fabric that had been donated to us, but any fabric would work.  There was also an option to add a little dove pocket to the cross.  Such a sweet touch.
Being an Episcopal school, we enjoyed making these with the kids.  They put such thought into them.  Making an Easter themed project has become a tradition for us.  Last year, we made these wonderful wooden crosses.


Playing Teacher

Today, we had a "Freaky Friday" moment where the kids played the teacher, and I got to sit back and learn.  Let me stress, that this was their idea - voted on by the class!  In the morning, everyone chose what part of the day to guide.   I made out good lesson plans that outlined the day and explained activities.

Here's a sneak peek of some of the action:
Learning how to play fraction BINGO.
Learning about comparative endings.
I think we both learned a lot with this activity.  The kids learned that it's not always as easy as it looks to be a teacher, and why I often will have to stop an activity or discussion so that we will stay on schedule. They also learned about the respect teachers and students have to give to one another for a happy, organized classroom.
Walking to Library.
I learned that these kids "get school."   Many of them asked wonderful questions and had a sense of what was important to know about a topic.  I could also see their fun personalities shining through as they guided their friends and became the leader.  Also, I saw myself being imitated all day.  Phrases such as "come on, friends!" to get them moving and "reach to the sky!" after we say the pledge were called out.  It was quite funny.
It's Pay Day!  Getting stickers!
What a day!

Outdoor Bunting

You know it's spring when the oilcloth bunting is hung!

Go Team! Felt Pennants


Just in time for March Madness!  Make a felt pennant for your favorite team.

Our pennants were about 1/2 a felt square, but you can make them larger (or smaller).  After cutting out the pennant, use felt scraps and/or foam letters and shapes to show your spirit.  When you're done, thread a bamboo skewer through the side or you can pin it on the wall.
Who are you rooting for?!

Spring Break Travel Pillow

It's spring break time down here in the south! In Sewing Club, we thought it would be fun to stitch up a little travel pillow to take while most kids hit the road for the beach or mountains.  Really, it's a good anytime pillow that is so simple and satisfying to make.

Ours has a little pocket on one side and a handle for easy traveling.  When designing the pillow, I was very much inspired by this cutie from Maya*Made.
Make your own:
1.  Cut fabric 13-1/2 x 18 inches.  If you are machine sewing your pillow or want a big one, you can use a fat quarter size (18 x 11 inches).

2.  Cut out a pocket from scrap fabric.  Sew the pocket onto one side.  Make sure the pocket is open towards the top of the fabric.  I showed the kids how to first fold their fabric in half to figure out where to place the pocket.

3.  Fold the fabric in half.  If handsewing, the good sides are facing out.  Beginning at the bottom of a short side, start sewing all the way around the three open sides.  Turn the second corner and stop to stuff the pillow.  After it's all plump, you can finish sewing it closed.

4.  Add 18 inches of ribbon for a handle.  Sew the ends of the ribbon down with several small stitches so that it will hold tight.

With precut fabric, most kids made one in under an hour.
Machine sewers can whip one out on a machine in no time.  Advanced sewers will want to fold the fabric with the good sides together and tuck the handle into the fabric so that everything is sewn together quickly and nicely.  After stuffing, handsew the pillow closed.

Of course, in true Sewing School fashion, some kids decided to make little bags using the same idea. 
Yay for Spring Break!

Learning with Dr. Seuss

 Dr. Seuss day is big deal at my school, for good reason.  We can learn a lot from the Dr. such as caring for the earth and each other, trying new foods, word families, and tongue twisters.  I was a little nervous coming up with activities for my group of second graders, but soon found that Seuss fit into every aspect of the curriculum. 
Who knew compound sentences could be so much fun?!  Using silly Dr. Seuss images as inspiration, the kids wrote compound sentences about them.  The entire second grade filled the hall with fun sentences.
 We are learning how to correctly combine two sentences to make a compound sentence using commas and conjunctions. 

Our new science unit focuses on plants.  What better way to kick it off than making Lorax pots?!  We will plant our seeds in them after Spring Break.  Before making our pots, we read the book and talked a lot about the importance of plants and a healthy environment. 
 After designing and cutting out the Lorax mustache, the kids had fun hot gluing the face onto the pot.
 Each Lorax is unique and fun!
Our door is filled with Dr. Seuss doubling math stories!  As part of our math unit, we discussed doubling and how it relates to multiplication.  The kids had fun imagining Dr. Seuss characters doubling right before their eyes!

We also wrote silly OO (as in foot) poems to go along with our phonics study this week.  I didn't take pictures of the results, but the tongue twisters and rhymes were right out of a Dr. Seuss book!  Can you guess what a "Yook on a hook" looks like!?