Children can be so industrious! Young children in the three to six years age range are really motivated to work, to be actively helping and doing. It may seem usual to those outside the Montessori world but at this age we can teach children to sew on buttons. Sewing on buttons is typically introduced from 3.5 years. When my older two children were in Montessori classrooms they would regularly bring home little pieces of fabric with buttons attached.
When introducing this activity to my three year old (43 months) we started with burlap on an embroidery hoop. We used large blunt (safe) embroidery needles with the needles pre-threaded. All the child has to do it choose a needle, choose a button and sew it on. The child will need help at the end to tie and cut the thread to secure the button. ⠀
This is a nice introduction to sewing on a button that my three year old is really comfortable with.
The next tray we presented still has an embroidery hoop and buttons but with fabric, finer (sharp) needles, thread, and a needle threader. Here the child has to cut their thread, tie a knot in the end and thread it onto the needle. They also need to be extra careful with the sharper needle.
This is much more challenging as it introduces a few new skills.
My three year old gets a little frustrated with this activity as he needs assistance, he is still learning to tie knots and although he can thread the needle, sometimes it takes a while to get it right. This is an activity where I stay nearby, actively supervising and ready to help.
The skills learnt here are in many ways unique. Carefully handling a sharp needle and threading a needle are new skills which take time to learn. This activity requires a lot of steps and the child needs to put the steps in order and there is a lot of work with the fingers, also some strength is required to push and pull the needle through the fabric. This requires persistence and problem solving. Don't be surprised if the child stops and starts this activity a lot. Sometimes we may not even sew on one button before putting the activity away. In the end the child is rewarded with a rather cute display of buttons!
Relevant articles you might enjoy:
- Our First Sewing Tray - this includes the sizes of the embroidery hoops and needles that we use and early threading activities.
- Montessori Sewing Cards + Preliminary Sewing Activities - this is useful if your child is new to sewing and threading.
- Our Montessori Sewing Tray - sewing tray ideas and activities for more experienced children, around four years+.