Thursday, November 8, 2007

Two Ways to Do Finger Knitting

Sunday was the finger knitting lesson with my Sunday School class. I read them The Goat in the Rug to introduce the steps in making yarn and then had every child decorate a brown paper bag with their name, choose a color of yarn, and get started with finger knitting! Last year I taught my Sunday School class the way I learned to do this from waldorfhomeschoolers, which was to make a slip knot, put your left pointer finger through it, then lay some of the yarn from the skein loosely on the finger (to the right of your first loop). We played sheep jumping over the fence. :-) Last year I read them Red Berry Wool to introduce this so it worked great. Take the left (slip knot) loop up and over the right loop and drop it off the end of your finger. Repeat! Easy as pie.

This time I tried to show the students a new way, which is the way shown in A First Book of Knitting for Children and also the way I was shown at the Boulder conference. You begin with a slip knot, open it up wide, and reach your right thumb and pointer finger through the loop to grab the yarn lying behind. Pretend this is a fish and you are catching it in a net. Pull a loop of yarn through your slip knot loop and tighten (by pulling on the short end). Don't tighten so much that your new loop disappears! Just control the size of your "net" this way. Reach through the new loop -- your new net -- to catch another fish.

When I taught Natalie using the fish and net motif it was very successful and she caught on immediately.

When I went into the classroom to teach a mixed group of 3rd and 5th graders, I began with the net and fish idea but quickly found out that this didn't work for all the children. Some asked me to show them "the way we did it last year" again. Roughly, the fish and net worked better for the girls and the sheep jumping over the fence worked better for the boys. I wonder if this is because catching fish in a net requires a bit more dexterity? They were all very upbeat and positive about it though, and I had students remarking 'that way didn't work for me but this one is much better' or 'I like the fish and the net, that works for me.' So they were taking control of their learning and making sure it worked for them!

Today I went into Natalie's room to find out that she had unwound her entire ball of yarn and it was all a mess. Just then I remembered that Regina had told us that one additional test of first grade readiness was to give your child a ball of yarn to wind up. If the child winds the yarn towards herself it means she is still living inside her body and is not yet ready for academic work. If the child winds the yarn away from herself it means she is living outside her body and is ready to begin academic work. Natalie did some of each :-) so I didn't find it particularly helpful but wanted to pass it on nonetheless.

Natalie taking in her knitting basket and her chain to show the class tomorrow (they are having a guest come in to demonstrate knitting). She is very excited to show her friends! Regina told us at the conference that her daughter knitted such a long chain that it reached from the roof of their two story house to the ground! This idea has taken Natalie's fancy and I think that is her goal. :-) Regina said that the long chain later became a rug of some kind, so there's a use for all that length! Barbara Dewey had us use jumping ropes in our active math work and she recommended that you use several lengths of finger knitting twisted around each other and fastened at the ends to make the jump ropes. Finger Knitting is usually work for 5 year olds, so you can use this as a nice transition to the first grade math work.

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