## Wednesday, July 27, 2011

### Math & Making Moment: Sewing Edition

My daughter, who is six years old, loves to sew and has taught herself most of what she knows.  She is, however, so fiercely independent in her learning that it has been quite difficult to give her new information or coaching when it's clear she needs it to move forward.  Today, however, we had a breakthrough!

This morning she mentioned wanting to sew a new dress for her stuffed kitty Hazelnut.  She's done this before and the dresses always end up too small.  I figured out recently that she would measure the fabric around the cat, and cut the fabric to size without leaving room for what they call  the 'seam allowance'.  I casually mentioned to her that professional seamstresses measure the subject first and then add an inch to that measurement for hems and such before they cut the fabric.  If she wanted to use my tape measure I'd be happy to show her.

She was all for it! We measured Hazelnut from neck to toe and added an inch.  While we measured I realized the tape measure was like a number line.  I said, "The end is zero and you put it where you want to start measuring."  After measuring the whole length of the dress she informed me it was actually to be in two pieces, so we measured again, this time from neck to waist, and waist to toe.  All of this got written down, which was her idea.

So we covered the length of the garment, but not the width.  To do that she measured around the kitty and added an inch, and wrote that down.

 The finished outfit, made from Papa's old pajamas, and a new beaded necklace to go with it!
I left her alone to cut the fabric and went off to do other things.  I came back about 10 minutes later to find that she really hadn't made the leap from measuring the doll to measuring the fabric.   This was a great opportunity to walk her through the concepts of length and width again.  When the pieces were cut to the right size, the finished product went together easily!

So, what did we cover?  Basic measurement and computation and length and width in two different contexts (the cat and the fabric needed to fit the cat).  Also, a little writing practice as well as some new information about how to abbreviate words ('inch' = 'in').   She happily pinned the hem, sewed it up and sewed the whole thing together without any more help from me.  I'll be interested to see how she extends, applies or connects this new information in the future.