Fan Mail

Andria and I were excited to receive a letter from a sweet sewer in the mail.  We've heard from lots Sewing School fans via email and FaceBook, but a real live letter?!  This was a first.  You can read the letter on Inside Storey and hear what Savannah, age 10, has to say about sewing and Sewing School 2.

Sewn Sock Bunnies

Right before the Easter break, we stitched up these funny sock bunnies.  I have made these simple no-sew ones in the past, but decided to finally try out Kristen's sock bunnies.  Ours turned out a little different because we used a different kind of sock, but the ears are the same!
Read the post at Kleas for cutting the sock, but you basically just lay the sock flat so that the heel is sticking up, then cut through both layers from the toe to the heel.  The heel is then the face.  Sewing up the ears was a little tricky and you have to be very careful around the curve.  The kids did great, though, and repaired any holes after stuffing.

Stuffing the ears took some patience.  Once I showed them how to use just a little bit of stuffing and to push it up with their thumbs or a pencil, we had success!

The best part was decorating!  This is where my class got super creative and began to name their bunnies and give them personalities.
Many students wanted to embroider the face, which I loved! 
Happy Spring!

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!