Parenting Resources

How to Teach Your Child to Hand Sew

How to Teach Your Child to Hand Sew

Sewing seems to be one of those lost arts. Ready made clothing is available everywhere. Bedding and kitchen cloths are at our disposal. Why sew any more? First, because it is one of those lost arts. Second, it is a skill that will remain with you and your children for a lifetime. Once you learn to hand sew (or machine sew for that matter), you never forget how to do it. Just like riding a bike or learning to swim.

Best age to teach your child to hand sew. Only you will be able to gauge the best age. You know your child and his or her ability. A couple of things to look for is interest, though they could lose interest just as fast as they gained it, that does not mean to toss the task to the wayside. Sewing with them will help keep them interested, especially if they know you are engaged and interested too. Their hand-eye coordination. If they have good dexterity, chances are they can handle a needle, thread and a piece of fabric.

Choose sewing materials. There are the traditional materials, such as a needle, thread and fabric. These things may be purchased at a fabric store or craft center. Then there are lacing shapes, which can be purchased from Melissa & Doug, Kaplan Toys, Amazon and many other retailers. All of which may be bought at a reasonable price. Lacing shapes work really well with younger children.

The fun thing about going the traditional route is going to the fabric store and choosing a piece of fabric with your child. Then you can teach them how to buy matching thread and how to choose the right size needles. littlegirlsewing.jpg

Keep it short and simple. The sewing lessons do not have to be very long. 10-20 minutes is probably as long as any young child is going to remain interested and still enjoy it. Listen to your child’s cues. But do not be afraid to push them just a little bit to finish a shape or a line of stitches. Remember to set a timer.

If going the traditional route, the best way to go about the lesson is to cut out 4”x4” squares of fabric and make a nine patch pillow top. After each square is cut, use a ruler and draw pencil lines on the squares about ⅝  ” away from the edge of the fabric all the way across the 4” side. Then draw dots a ¼” apart on the line and show your child how to sew up and down on the dots to make a solid seam. This helps them sew straight and sets them up for success rather than failure.

A full pattern for a nine patch pillow may be found here:

Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. Patience is worth repeating. Learning a new skill can be challenging. Give your child a chance to make mistakes. There will be knots in laces and thread. Stitches will be crooked. Thread will break. Fingers will be pricked with needles (get a thimble!) and there may be exclamations of, “I can’t do this!” “I don’t want to do this anymore!” Set the timer for 10-20 minutes and keep to it. This helps prevent creating a quitter and builds perseverance.

Great quotes for inspiration in almost anything worth doing:

“The line, ‘if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly,’ is not an excuse for poor efforts. It is perhaps an excuse for poor results. But our society is plagued by wanting good results with no efforts (or rather, with someone else’s efforts). We hire someone else to work for us, to play for us (that is, to entertain us), to think for us, and to raise our children for us. We have left ‘the things worth doing’ to others, on the poor excuse that others might be able to do them better.” ~ from Chesterton’s book, What’s Wrong with the World, 1910.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

Anything worth doing does require effort. Be sure you make this fact a part of your sewing lesson. Choose materials that fit your lifestyle, budget and are age appropriate for your child. Keep your lessons short and simple. Remember to be patient with yourself and your child. Last of all, do not forget to have fun and celebrate your accomplishments with a cup of hot cocoa or a tea party. Part of the process is creating memories with your child too.

Parenting Resources

Teaching Your Child to Read

Each child will learn to read at his/her own pace, but here are 5 key signs to look for that might indicate your little one is getting ready.

  1. Your child shows an interest in reading. One of the many ways children do this is to pretend they are reading the words of a book or they ask, “Mommy, what is this word?”

  2. He knows the alphabet. Once a child knows the alphabet they usually will make the connection between their ABC’s and words in print.

  3. She “reads” or recites a book she has memorized.

  4. He engages in conversation about a book. Children do this by asking questions, re-telling the story in their own words and have the capability of answering questions about a book that was just read to them.

  5. She asks, “Will you teach me to read?” or “When will I learn to read?” This usually happens when a child had been taught the love of books and reading, have been read to a lot by their caregivers.

Choosing a Curriculum. Again, there is no one size fits all curriculum. If you were to ask teachers or homeschooling parents what the best reading curriculum is, you would get as many different responses as there is curriculum. What you have to consider is how your child learns, what is his or her attention span, how much time do you have to devote to the curriculum? Once you have answered those questions, it will be easier to narrow down your choices.

It is very important that you choose a phonics based curriculum, not one that requires children to memorize all the words. Yes, there are sight words and words that do not follow phonics rules, but knowing phonics gives children the ability to sound out the majority of words in the English language.

Five popular reading curriculum among homeschoolers and public schools:

  1. Saxon Phonics.

  2. Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

  3. Hooked on Phonics.

  4. Sing, Spell, Read and Write.

  5. Abeka Reading Curriculum.

There are plenty more out there. These just seem to be the ones most talked about in a quick internet search.

Keeping a Schedule. Consistency is key when teaching your child to read. It helps them remember the sounds. It enables them to practice on a regular basis. Reading every day to your child and then doing their lessons is important to their developing reading skills. Just because your child is learning to read does not mean they are too big to be read to. Keeping to a schedule or routine also gets you into the habit of sitting down and practicing the lessons and sounds with your child. Without a schedule you are setting you and your child up for failure.

Knowing when to take a break. Children are children and can grow weary of a lot of sit down study time. Take a break if they are frustrated over sounding out a word or keep getting a sound mixed up with another. Cut a story in half if you find their attention waning. Give them time to get up and move around. Active children need this so they can go back to focusing on the task at hand. Know when either of you are tired so you can take a break for that reason too.

Knowing when to take a break if your child is not getting the reading concepts is just as important as taking a break during a lesson. Sometimes we can misread the signs of readiness and that is ok. It is completely acceptable to put the reading curriculum back on the shelf for a couple weeks or a couple months to give our child more time to grow into their readiness. This is not failure, this is giving your child a chance to become more ready. You do not want to squelch their desire to read and want them to LOVE reading. Better to take a break than do that, right?

If you love to read, then you will naturally desire that love of reading will be passed onto your children. Be a good example. Let them see you read. Have books and magazines in your home. Let your children have access to books and magazine they can pick up and look at. Read, read, read to your children and read some more. These are all things to do while your child is young so they have the chance to fall in love with books and the idea of reading. Teaching your child to read begins long before they are school age and curriculum has to be purchased. Be aware that you can be a part of teaching your children to read right from the beginning. After all, parents are a child’s first teacher.

Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged

Must-See Museums from the Midwest to the West Coast

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When traveling with children, it is always fun to scout out interesting places to take them. Children love to learn and see new things. Museums offer an educational experience and a chance to form fond memories as a family. From the Midwest to the West coast here are some must-see museums for families:

Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

museum-of-science-and.jpgChicago Museum of Science and Industry is a highly interactive museum located on Lakeshore Drive in the city of Chicago. Children can experience Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb or drive a huge John Deere combine through a crop field. They can even take a ride through a coal mine!  Their engaging website offers interesting online educational activities, such as a drag-and-drop laboratory.


Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum

You cannot go to Missouri without visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri. Nearly everyone is intrigued by the pioneer days of our country. Here you can learn more about the “Little House” series author Laura Ingalls Wilder and how the pioneers actually lived, as well as look around her two homes on her Rocky Ridge Farm.

Chicago Children’s Museum

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Located on Navy Pier in Chicago, the Chicago Children’s Museum has three levels of fun educational activities that are sure to keep your children busy in mind, body and spirit. For your hands-on learners, try the Tinkerlab. Your dinosaur lovers will love the Dinosaur Expedition. For those who need to climb, try the Treehouse Trails. There’s something for everyone!

Wonderscope Children’s Museum in Kansas City


Wonderscope Children’s Museum in Kansas City offers children the opportunity to play with water in the H2O exhibit. Other highlights include Farm to Market, Lego Ocean Adventure, Tinkerspace, and Amazing Airways. Kids can let their light shine in the Performance area. Your children are sure to be entertained for hours! Admission is a nominal fee. 

WOW Children’s Museum Lafayette, Colorado

Want to make your kids some slime? What about homemade bubbles? WOW Children’s Museum in Lafayette, Colorado, has some online activities you can do at home with your children. In person, here are some of their popular exhibits: Bubbles, Pirate Ship & Lighthouse, Pulley Chairs, Stage & Puppet Theater, Dance & Yoga Studio, Forest of Light, Blowing in the Wind, Build It!, Market, Garden (which is seasonal) and SunSational Energy & Science.

Discovery Museum in Las Vegas

Like many other museums, the Discovery Museum in Las Vegas offers you the chance to host your child’s birthday party there, school tours and enrichment programs just for kids. Their newest exhibit arrived on Jan. 31 – Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear! and will be there until May 31st. Sounds pretty scary, eh? Their other exhibits include: The Summit, Eco City, Fantasy Festival, Patents Pending, Toddler Town, Solve It, Water Town, Young Art and It’s Your Choice.

Treehouse Museum in Ogden, Utah

Children ages 3- 10 will love the playful options at Treehouse Museum in Ogden, Utah including knights and castles, a diner, the rodeo, life-size chess, multicultural exhibit, and plenty more to spark the imagination. And, of course, a large pretend treehouse. This museum offers daily “Step on Stage” interactive theater programs for families. The Art Garden provides visual arts programs using a variety of media for your children’s enjoyment.

Academy of Sciences in San Francisco

Fun-filled informational exhibits like the living roof and kid-friendly tidepools enable children to learn more about the world in which they live. There is also a live rainforest with butterflies and parrots, a penguin tank, a giant tank featuring sea life found off the California coast, and a planetarium. At the Early Explorers exhibit, kids can learn about the cove and the Galapagos. There is also a fifteen year old albino alligator named Claude. Locals and tourists alike love this museum.  More can be found at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Zimmer Children’s Museum in L.A.

Children will be excited to participate in Rhythms of the World learning about different instruments around the world, Mark Taper Foundation Aid and Rescue Center, Construction Zone, Blue Bagel Cafe enjoying cuisines from different countries and so much more at Zimmer Children’s Museum in L.A. The video below gives you a quick sneak peak.

National Parks

Instead of being inside a building, our National Parks are a living museum that are constantly changing. Several times a year, the National Parks have free admission, and even on the days that there’s an admission fee, the sight of places like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and other National Parks is well worth the visit.

Eager to head to your local museum now? Museums are a valued part of our culture and get kids experimenting and thinking. Conscious parents desiring to enrich the lives of their children find museums supplement their child’s education in a hands-on way. Parents, grandparents and older children may take advantage of volunteer or employment opportunities to enhance their resume or college application. One thing is for sure, there is something for young and old from the Midwest to West Coast…at these must-see museums.