Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Knitting Class for Kids

by Lynne at Cozy Cottage Creations

On Friday afternoons, I teach an after-school knitting class at my daughters' school for grades 1-5. I'm happy to be able to say that not only do the kids enjoy it, but I do, too!
pictured above: The knitting needles I purchased from faeriewaldorf on etsy for my knitting class

It's been so gratifying to see the girls (so far the class has only been girls, but I'd love to have some boys sign up) sitting around the library working on their knitting or coming up to me during the morning drop off to enthusiastically tell me of their progress.

Their projects are little loved masterpieces dripping with innocence and the kind of fresh creativity only a beginner can achieve.
It didn't exactly start this way when I first agreed to teach this class a year and a half ago. I have this habit of jumping into things before I remember that I have no idea what I'm doing! It was one of those "learn-on-the-job" situations, and for a little while I was certain I wouldn't survive it.

Here's the scene I originally envisioned: I would hand out the yarn and knitting needles to my patiently waiting students. Then, after a brief explanation of how knitting is done, we'd all start knitting together, one stitch at a time, in unision. This expectation was quickly shattered by reality. Instead I found myself fielding an onslaught of eight-year olds excitedly chattering to me about everything from their baby brother's antics to what their dog ate for dinner to a rundown of their extended family. I took a serious power nap after that first class. It was clear I needed to come up with a better plan. Surprisingly, I did not find any strategies on the internet for holding the attention of and teaching a group of young children to knit.

Through trial and error, I've come up with my own formula for success which I will share with you here, in case you're thinking of starting a knitting class for kids, too!

1. Stagger the starting dates for each student. This way, there's only one new student starting each time. This practice has been key! It allows each student one-on-one time with me on their first day of knitting. While not everyone in the room may be knitting well on their own, at least I'm not having to get six kids up to speed all at the same time (a proven impossible task). I've found that a maximum of six students in the class at one time is the critical number for making sure everyone gets their needs met and leaves happy (including me).

2. Another key practice is to give out numbers. At the start of each class, every student is clamoring for my attention and they are at varying stages of their project. They all have questions and they all feel their needs are the most urgent. I discovered that assigning them numbers (like at the deli), for the order in which I will help them totally works to keep them patient while I help others. During the time that they wait, they can either eat their snack, read a book, or work on their knitting. Sometimes they even negotiate to trade numbers with each other. It's pretty funny when that happens!

3. To get them started knitting, I make them watch me knit a row of 20 stitches in sloooowwwww motion. They must keep their eyes on the needles for every single stitch! While I knit, we repeat a knitting rhyme together. It goes like this....
"In through the front door....
around the back....
peek through the window....
off jumps Jack."

Every time with each new knitter, after the third or fourth stitch, they want to take over. I tell them "no", they must watch and say the rhyme with me. By the time we get to the end of the row, they truly are ready. It's sunk in and they can visualize and understand what they need to do to create each stitch. I watch them do their next row to make sure they're getting the technique correctly. Usually by the time they get to the end of the row, they're really feeling it. They're ready to try it on their own and I'm ready to help the next knitter. That's not to say they're knitting perfectly. There's a lot to knitting one stitch, and a lot of spots where it can go wrong. But since I've been doing it this way, the kids are much more willing to sit and work at it. They're even excited to practice at home, which I love!

So there you have it - my Top 3 Tips for teaching a roomful of kids to knit!


  1. great post Lynne - it made me want to be eight again and have you as a knotting teacher!

  2. I love your description of listening to all those young girls and their random-ness at once! What a challenge to teach them all at the same time.

    Super post!

  3. Lynne, you're awesome!! My son wants to learn to knit and that rhyme is so cute! I wish you were teaching in my neck of the woods :)

  4. I wish I knew how to knit! You make it sound so fun - great post Lynne!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...