Although all the eager embroiderers from third grade are very keen carry on with their embroidery and grow their skills with this art into their 4th grade year it is not possible. Their curriculum is very full and there is no discretionary time for this kind of activity.
So …we compromised and offered embroidery at the after school program. This is not perfect as it only can be offered to the students who attend the program.
This year I thought it was time to branch out from the counted thread embroidery with which the students have become so comfortable. So for the fifth grade group I offered an elementary goldwork class featuring a Christmas Tree. I have 17 students all learning the skills needed to embroider with gold thread. Very exciting and they love it.
For the 4th graders, building on their counted thread embroidery skills we are using the same fabric as third grade, same threads, same needle but seven new stitches which the fabric is designed to help them master. They choose their own colors and we discuss choices by looking at the color wheel. They will need to design their own names and center the lettering on their project.
School finished for my 90 stitchers in early June. They have been a wonderful group of enthusiastic embroiderers. Not wanting them to set off into the summer months with no embroidery projects after so much work and creativity, I did what I have been doing for the past few years.
I made up and sold kits. Keeping 90 students in expensive fabric and colorful dmc thread for a whole year of embroidery costs some serious dollars. The school does not fund the third grade embroidery program. The funds come from the students themselves. I do not charge them for the materials. Everything, throughout the whole year is plentiful and given to them free of charge.
Towards to end of the school year I explain to them that I will be selling kits to those students who wish to continue with their embroidery when school is out for the summer. I explain that NO ONE has to buy a kit. If they are sick of embroidery and never want to do it again that is fine. But…..if they would like to carry on, explore some different techniques and fabrics then I can help them out. I make up two different kinds of kit. One has a chart and all the materials needed to embroider the school mascot, a dolphin. The other kit contains a variety of fabrics and threads, beads and instructions on how to explore their new found art.
Each kits sells for $10. This year I added the bonus of a needlethreader for an extra $2. The teachers take the orders and collect the money and I make up the kits and bring them in to the students’ classrooms. It is a huge undertaking making all the kits and my work room is awash with organized threads and fabric and sheets of instructions. This year I made about $800 selling kits to students. So the embroidery fund is looking really healthy and I can order threads and fabric for next year.
But……even better than the cash for next year’s students is the knowledge that the students this year enjoyed their embroidery so much that they wanted lots of kits to carry on.
The above picture shows one of the students who stitched his summer kits even before school finished! This student arrived in third grade with no English. ….but he has many skills as you can see.