My daughter is on vacation from kindergarten, and I have been trying to keep her busy! She has a keen interest in crochet, and has been wanting to actually make a project, but was convinced that it would be too difficult. Last week, she got the idea to create a catalog of her designs that she would like to make. She really amazed me with her ideas. She sketched scarves, gloves, a hat, bracelet, necklace, rug, and juice box holder. Some of them she thought she might be able to make now, and some she would like to make some day. Those, she labeled "not available". Below are some of her favorite designs from the catalog. She rated them based on the number and size of "coins" she drew under the designs- a look inside the mind of a 5 year old!
When she finished the catalog, she asked me if she could try making one of her designs. I thought it was a great idea, and encouraged her to try a scarf. She likes to make her own decisions though, and convinced me that she could make the rug. She has done some surface crocheting before, which got her a little used to the hook and how stitches were formed, but she didn't think she could crochet in rows with a hook. She even cried when I suggested it! I thought that would be the end of the crochet lesson, but she was determined to make something. I told her to make the beginning chain with her fingers because she is used to doing that, and she thought that was a good idea, so I left her to it. She made it about 3 feet long, and then told me she was ready to do the first row. We agreed that I should do the first row, since working into the chain can be a little tricky. When I finished, I told her I would show her how to make a single crochet with the hook. She was disappointed that she couldn't do more finger crochet, but was willing to try. She likes to do everything herself, so I had to be creative as to how to show her and not be too controlling! In the end we succeeded, and the following is a list of tips based on the experience!
1. Use a reasonably large hook, (we used a size "H").
2. Choose a brightly colored variegated yarn, in a worsted weight, that doesn't split easily. I suggest choosing a yarn that doesn't have white in it, as it is a little more difficult to see the stitches. The variegated yarn makes the crocheting more interesting without having to physically change colors, and it will motivate them to keep going to see the next color.
3. If the child isn't comfortable with a hook, you can let them make the chain in finger crochet, as long as the chains are fairly loose.
4. Do the first row for them, so it will be less likely to twist, and they will have something more substantial to hold onto.
5. Show them a few times how a single crochet is made, and talk about how you twist the hook to keep the yarn from slipping off. Also explain how you push the loops down the barrel of the hook before wrapping the yarn around it, so the loops will enlarge slightly to make them easier to work into.
6. Work into the back loops of the stitches, so there will be less chance of making a mistake. Take 2 colors of washable markers, and mark the stitches that they should work into, alternating the colors as you go (as shown above). I marked about the first 20 stitches, after that she was able to identify where to insert the hook next.
7. Let them hold the hook and the work on the left side, while you hold the working yarn and the work just under the current stitch. By doing this, they can get used to holding and twisting the hook, as well as the steps of making the stitch, without worrying about how to hold the yarn and keep good tension. When you hold the working yarn, you are in control of the tension and can guide them to work in the correct way.
8. When they are comfortable and confident in making the stitches, you can show them how to hold the working yarn, and they can concentrate on tension and how both hands work together.
After our successful first lesson, I told my daughter that I would give her a crochet award, which will be a pin she can wear. I am thinking of making a crochet hook out of Fimo clay, with "I Crochet" written on it. When she can crochet independently, I will make her a golden yarn ball pin to wear next to the hook. She loved the idea, and it is motivating her to practice on her own!
I hope these tips will be helpful to those of you trying to teach a young child to crochet, and I would love to hear about your experiences as well!