Dr Maria Montessori used to say that Practical Life activities should be meaningful, and also that the skills it strengthens should be used in a practical manner in everyday life. That way, developing Practical Life skills is a strong Montessori principle and learning to sew is something that every child can use in life. It is also a great way to refine motor skills.
Teaching children daily life skills while learning and improving other basic skills is what Maria Montessori was all about. Let’s find out how the Montessori Wooden Sewing Board is in-line with the Montessori Practical Life and Fine Motor Skills principles; how to use it and which activities you can try out thanks to this complete video guide below.
You’ll also find more written details under the video.
Using the Wooden Sewing Board Set for a Montessori activity
This educational toy comes with two strings, two sets of buttons and two frames to sew the buttons onto. One pink shirt and one green shirt. These well-made buttons are easy to hold, especially for little hands and can withstand the mistakes made when learning to sew.
The board is made of wood & easily holds the buttons on as you sew. It’s also easy to hold in your hand so you can practice sewing.
Developing Practical Life skills with buttons sewing – Montessori activity (Age 4)
The laces have a nice stiff end which helps lace the buttons on easily. Start in the top left corner and lace it through the first hole, making sure to stop before you get to the end. Feed it through one hole in the button and notice that it needs to go through the other button & into the frame.
You can pause here to show your child the importance of lining up the two holes before sewing it in. You can continue on in this manner with the next one having the string come up from behind the board. The order of the buttons does not matter nor do the colour order. You can feel free to just sew the buttons on as you see fit.
The string is very long and is perfect for if you make a mistake. You have plenty of string to get through the entire board even if it’s not perfect. All six buttons take a little bit of time to sew onto the board and this is great fine motor practice for your child.
In a Montessori classroom, this Montessori work could be available in the Practical Life area of the classroom because sewing a button is part of everyday life.
As the teacher from the video does the next board, we’ll see more of how the back looks as she does it.
You can also show the child that while the front looks nice and neat where the buttons are sewn on, the back of the shirt will often look a little messy. It’s the same as with real sewing as well. The underside of the fabric tends to look a little more messy than the actual buttons that you see and use every day. Again, the order of the buttons does not matter.
You can feel free to sew them on however you see fit, but they only go one way with the two button holes lining up to the two holes in the frame. When you’re all done you should have a good length of string left
Theses frames can be used over and over. They’re made to be durable and they last for a long time, so even if children make mistakes, these frames will be a part of your classroom or home for a long time. This button sewing frame is a must have for your kid. Your child will fully enjoy this wooden sewing board set.
Refine motor skills thanks to buttons sewing – Montessori activity (Age 4-5)
Every Montessori task has multiple goals. For example strengthening fingers, improving fine motor skills, visual and spacial perception and concentration are all outcomes of this one Montessori activity. Holding the stiff ends of the string to feed the string through the holes, begins the preparation of little fingers to hold a pencil. This is known as the pincer grip and is indirect preparation for writing.
Hand eye coordination and muscular control are also developed through this activity and concentration and patience are needed to practice feeding the string through the holes in the buttons and then matching up the corresponding holes in the board.
The Montessori buttons sewing board also helps develop and refine fine motor skills as well as visual and spacial awareness. The child has to judge distance and size in order to feed the string through the holes. Children will use this activity over and over as it is a challenge to them to get the buttons sewn onto the boards in the correct places and they will try until they get it right. Once they have completed the task successfully, they will want to try again to see if they can repeat their success.
Using this educational toy is a great tactile activity to have for learning basic sewing skills. It is hands on, practical and fun with a visible outcome. The Montessori approach to education is that children do not learn the way adults do and that the child should rather cultivate his own natural desire to learn. By using their hands and physically performing the task their whole body is engaged and they are able to remember the skills that they used to achieve completion of the task, while at the same time, refining and developing those skills.
Maria Montessori’s approach VS the buttons sewing activity
There are no time limits for any Montessori task, including this one, as Maria Montessori believed that every child should be allowed to work independently and at their own pace, to practice and perfect work that they have already been given a lesson on, all in their own time.
She believed that all children could develop and grow as long as they had the time to progress by themselves, she called it “freedom within limits”. Some children learn certain things faster than others, but by giving them the time and space they need, they would all master the activities. This activity will keep your child’s interest and attention.
The Montessori sewing board allows the child to make their own choices about what colour buttons they use and in what order they will use them. Choice is an important principle of Montessori learning as it is designed to help children choose to do what interests them, when they would like to do it and where they would like to do it. Doing something that interests you rather than something you have to do, naturally leads to better learning.
As with the colours of the buttons, there is no right or wrong order to be followed, the choice is the child’s while he is busy with the activity. The child may sew whichever colour button in whichever sequence suits him without feeling like he is doing the activity wrong.
Patience is also learned while doing this sewing activity as it takes a quite a while to sew all six buttons onto the board. If the child see’s that he has made a mistake, then he is able to unlace the buttons and begin again. This requires patience, perseverance and dedication, all of which are learned during this task as the child wants to finish the activity and will therefore keep trying.
On completion of the Montessori buttons sewing board activity, the child will feel a sense of satisfaction for having achieved his goal which leads to a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence and hopefully a desire to learn more.
Montessori sewing activity and Self-confidence
The Montessori button sewing board control of error is visual. This means that it is a self-correcting activity in which the child is able to see for him or herself whether they have made a mistake or completed the task correctly. In doing this, they begin to learn critical thinking at a young age. If they have threaded the string and buttons incorrectly, they will be able to see that it is wrong, undo it and try again in a different pattern until they get it right.
“Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul.” – Dr Maria Montessori
We all feel great when we feel capable and competent. Being capable of doing day to day activities gives the child a sense of self-worth and value in the world and what better way to learn than achieving a skill such as sewing? The child recognises that it is an adult skill, something Mom would do…sew a button onto a shirt, and makes them feel like they have achieved a skill …just like Mom.
The teacher or parent would demonstrate the Montessori sewing activity to the child but then would only be available for assistance and guidance as the child experiments and discovers how to continue with the sewing task on his own. It gives them a sense of competence and empowerment. Some of the most important goals of the Montessori pedagogy are coordination, concentration, independence and a sense of order and this activity provides all of them. The Montessori button sewing board is one of the first sewing activities and is designed for 3- 6 years olds.
Montessori is an educational system developed by Maria Montessori which encourages the natural development of the child and respect for the child in the learning process. Children are encouraged to learn at their own pace and follow their own interests rather than a set curriculum and timetable.
Children teach themselves by using individual Montessori materials and activities designed for a specific purpose instead of being just one in a classroom full of other children following a prescribed lesson. This makes the child an active participant in learning rather than a passive one. The Montessori pedagogy believes that understanding is achieved through the child’s own experiences and the ability to discover things for themselves rather than learning which is based on prescribed subjects with a limited amount knowledge.
How sewing is in-line with the Montessori Method?
Maria Montessori believed that learning is achieved through the link between physical exploration and cognition rather than sitting at a desk and learning from chalkboards and worksheets, do by doing rather than just being told. The child recognises his own development and progress, which brings its own reward and therefore motivation to continue. Montessori believes that working and learning should be matched to each child’s social development rather than a general prescribed lesson and to this end the child is able to work for as long as he wants to on his chosen activity without being interrupted. He may also choose where he would like to work, on the floor or at a desk, wherever he is most comfortable, as long as he doesn’t disturb the other children and their activities.
This is a different approach to traditional teaching where children are assigned chairs desks and are not allowed to move around during classes. In a Montessori environment, the child is free to move around, put his activity away when he has finished with it and choose another task.
Why you should try the Montessori button sewing board?
First, the bright colours are attractive to small children and this task will seem more like play than work to them. The buttons are sturdy and a size that is easy for small fingers to work with. If the buttons were too small it would make the task too difficult a challenge and the child would lose interest. The laces are long enough that the child has room to make mistakes without running out of lace. The ends of the laces are stiff so that it is easy for the child to feed them through the holes in both the buttons and the boards.
The Montessori button sewing board teaches the child multiple skills, strengthens various senses including touch, visual perception, spacial perception, concentration, independence and coordination. The completion of this Montessori sewing activity is achievable without being too difficult so as to become frustrating.
This is a tactile activity allowing the child to use his hands to achieve a goal and learn, and as Maria Montessori herself said “what the hand does, the mind remembers’. So let your child learn independently by working by himself, in his own time and see the satisfaction he feels when he achieves his goal.