Measure Twice, Sew Once: Sixth Graders Stitch Together Patience and Persistence
A whir of productivity filled the air as Colleen Fodor's sixth-grade Family and Consumer Sciences class pieced together their first projects. Students carefully measured fabrics, guided those fabrics through humming sewing machines, and stuffed pillows until they were fluffy. Though some steps posed challenges, the North Salem Middle School class persisted through the multi-week curriculum, eager to transform their efforts into gifts for family members and themselves.
"It feels really good to make things for other people," said Emma, sewing a pillow to match her grandmother's couch. She took a break from her project to help a classmate sew a button. "It's really cool that we get to make all these things from scratch. It's a little hard, but once you do it one time, it gets so much easier, and it's really fun to do," she said.
Classmates echoed Emma's excitement in developing practical skills and boosting their confidence. Nick figured out how to thread a sewing machine by comparing a hand-sewing needle to the one in the machine. His classmate Pritza ranked the feeling of finishing her gingerbread ornament higher than her recent 100% math test score. After her first attempt ended in a tangle, Pritza perfected her tiny stuffed gingerbread through perseverance.
"It feels very rewarding. You feel like you've done something good for yourself," said Parker, who overcame struggles with attaching buttons and succeeded in sewing three pouches by hand. He now finds stitching meditative. "When you make something for yourself, it works better, it tastes better, it looks better."
"Sewing involves many different skills - math for measuring, fine motor skills to thread a needle, mechanical knowledge to operate a machine safely," said Ms. Fodor. "Most importantly, it takes persistence and perseverance to keep trying when frustrated. I saw incredible focus from students to push past obstacles like tangled threads to create their first project. I could see that sense of accomplishment keeping them motivated through challenges."