Friday, August 12, 2011

Threading a Needle

I have a soft spot for Montessori's integration of sewing in the classroom and have always appreciated this Practical Life activity.  The sewing sequence lessons are extremely helpful in promoting the direct and indirect aims of any and all Montessori lessons:  Concentration, coordination, independence, and order (CCIO). In my classroom, however, I've encountered some obstacles while trying to introduce basic sewing lessons - either the child needs too much assistance and becomes disinterested, or more obviously, has difficulty with the initial step of simply threading the needle.  To address this problem, I did what any Montessori teacher would do - I created a new lesson:  Threading a Needle.

To begin the lesson:  The child takes this tiny basket  with a mat to a workspace at a table.  In our classroom, we use placemat sized "table-top mats."  The contents of the basket include: three lengths of yarn in red, yellow, and green; and three children's sewing needles also in red, yellow, and green.  (They are under the yarn in this photo and hard to see).
The mat is unrolled and the basket is placed at the top in the center.  During the initial presentation, the teacher takes out one piece of yarn and shows each end of the string. 

I have placed a small piece of masking tape on the threading end...

...and made a knot on the other end.
 As each end is shown, the yarn is placed horizontally on the mat with the taped end on the left.  Then, the yarn is straightened by following it with the fingers of dominant hand moving from left to right.  This is repeated with each of the yarn lengths, thus helping to train the eye in left to right movement in preparation for reading and writing.

The three pieces of yarn laid out on the mat. 
 Next, the needles are shown.  As each needle is taken out of the basket, the teacher shows the eye and the points to both ends of the needle.  Then, it is placed above the matching yarn on the threading side with the eye on the left:

Placement of needles on the mat.
 Now, the child is shown how to actually thread the needle beginning from the top piece of yarn.  For me, it is most natural to grasp the needle with the right hand and the yarn with the left, threading it through the eye with the left fingers. 

Threading the needle.
Once the needle is successfully threaded, the child is shown where to stop pulling, creating the "tail."  The threaded needle is placed back on the mat, this time with the needle on right of the mat.

The first of three threaded needles on the top...

...and all three threaded needles.
To clean up, the child removes the thread from each needle, beginning from the top, and returns the needles to the basket.  The yarn is then wound lightly around the fingers and placed into the basket on top of the needles.

Lesson completed.
I decided to use the three coordinating colors not just for added interest (the colors match our upcoming 'Apples' theme), but mainly to allow the child opportunities for repetition.  I am excited about this lesson because it will provide my students the chance to practice an important skill which ultimately builds success in future activities while simultaneously enhancing CCIO. 

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Montessori Monday


  1. A great lesson to learn and teach ;-)
    Thank you Sasha you are amazing as always ;-)
    It's a pleasure to read your posts ;-)
    Lots of love

  2. Great idea! I need to do this with Short Pants.

  3. Thank you, Ewa - you are too kind with your words! ;-)

  4. Nicole, Thanks for the comment - I'd be interested in hearing how the lesson goes if you decide to try it!

  5. Great lesson! I have a question about your table mats - are they all stored in one spot, or is there one with each activity?

  6. Our table-top mats are stored in one spot. I like it that way because it gives the kids more oppportunities for movement...

  7. This is such a great lesson (and you laid it out so well!) Thanks for sharing!

  8. Simple and effective lesson. Thx for sharing.

  9. Great idea to have a difficult skill like that as a separate lesson, Sasha! I love the way you isolated the difficulty and made each step clear. Thanks for linking up with Montessori Monday! I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page.

  10. Thank you, Terri and Martianne - I'm glad you like the lesson and I appreciate your kind words! Deb, Thanks again for the link-up - I always enjoy the visits it brings to my blog...

  11. Hi Sasha.. I was just looking at your threading a needle activity and I was wondering how it worked with your children. I am thinking of setting up the same exercise on our shelf to isolate the difficulty and I was wondering if there is anything you would change now maybe? Or was it successful? Thanks for all your great tips Sasha!!

  12. I'm happy to report that this lesson has been a great success. I like keeping it on the shelf because interest rotates among the children - some kids are just now becoming interested while others are now very proficient and ready for something new (which I'm in the process of putting together!).

  13. Thanks for sharing. I had that problem too when I was working on this activity with a child. It will help me in my future lesson with other kids.

  14. Another series of lessons to jot down in my little notebook for the Future Classroom!