Sunday, March 06, 2011


During class the other day Silly Boy, one of my homeroom kiddos who is one of the silliest kids I know, got all worked up because he'd lost a button off of his shirt.

Go figure.

The kids were busy working on a group activity about Newton's Laws when Silly Boy came up and asked me what to do with the button that had popped off his flannel shirt.

"Well, take it home and sew it on," I suggested.  "Or have your mom do it."

"I don't know how to sew, and I'll probably lose it before I get home," he admitted.  At least he's honest.  This is a kid who loses his locker several times a week because he can't remember to bring his books to class.

"You don't know how to sew on a button?" I asked, figuring that was one of those life skills that everyone pretty  much knew how to do, sort of like boiling water.  Granted, Silly Boy is, after all, a boy so maybe he missed the "how to use a needle and thread" lesson somewhere in life.

Which got me to thinking.  Maybe he's not alone.

So, while I went to my desk and whipped out my "housewife" (you Civil War buffs will know what I'm talking about but it's a reproduction sewing kit that soldiers would use to do their own mending - me, I use it to fix things at school) I stopped the kids for a minute and asked them if any of them knew how to sew on a button.

My jaw about dropped.  Out of 23 kids, two raised their hands.

"Seriously?" I said.  "You don't know how to sew on a button?  What do you do when you lose one?"

The answers varied from "I dunno", to "Give it to mom/grandma/older sister" to "Don't wear it anymore".

Oh dear.  Even the girls, many of them in Girl Scouts at some point in their lives, didn't know how to sew on a button.  They were, I might add, just fascinated as they watched me sew the button back on Silly Boy's shirt (with him still in it, squirmy little twerp that he was).   Most of my kids don't come from money and the fact that they can't do basic clothing repairs just blows my mind.

So I'm thinking...the last week of school, when we're wrapping up the year, I just may get a bunch of buttons, fabric scraps, and needles and thread and teach these kids one of those basic life skills - sewing on a button.


ms.understood said...

Confession: I'll be 26 next week. I'm a teacher. I don't know how to sew on a button...

Shannon said...

Wonderful idea! The kids would be well served by it...and their parents would be, too!

When my K-1 students found out that I have a sewing machine, and know how to use it (!), I received a pair of pants for repairs the very next day. The Mom sent a note saying that she'd never learned how to sew on a button (much less repair seams), and so the family had a big pile of stuff they could no longer wear.

Clothing repairs have become part of my job description!

Summers School said...

I love it! This is a really good idea- I've noticed that a lot of the kids I work with are really helpless when it comes to things like this. There's also the mud on the shoes they don't know how to get off.

musicteacher said...

I was thankful for my rudimentary sewing skills when a very important seam came undone at my work 40-some miles away from home.

Yellow rose said...

My sister in Oklahoma City is a Girl Scout leader. She had a small sewing project that even the mothers wanted to attend. One of the mothers thought that you knotted the thread to the needle. It's interesting what different people consider "common sense," whether it is sewing or gardening or auto repair or computers. Somebody has had to teach the person a skill, or they had to at least observe it.

teachergirl said...

I think that is a fantastic idea! The last week of school stinks, anyway. Let's teach them something they can use.

Mme. Rogers said...

I neat little activity I did with my students this year (and with the help of a local Native artist) is to have them make mini-button blankets using felt. Just google "button blankets" if you don't know what I'm talking about. West Coast Natives made these, and your kids can do small ones, the size of a white sheet of paper.
They can use a stencil to work from ahead of time, and you can choose, say, 4 different animals. The animals can be assigned based on birthdays (ex: buffalo, bear, etc...) Use local animals.
Once they cut out the animal and glue it on to the rectangular felt of a contrasting colour, they can add a frame (same colour as animal, and from same piece).
They then outline the piece with standard white buttons, then add one more piece of felt glued on the back to hide the thread. 3 pieces of felt per student.

Of course, this requires supplies and a bit of time (which you may not have a lot of).

Mrs. Bluebird said...

Okay, I'm liking the felt button thing Yukon Chatter Bug...thanks for the idea.

Sarah said...

My husband (39) has no idea how to sew on a button. He wanted to ask his mom to do it when we went to visit and was shocked when I said I could do that. I don't cook but I can sew on a button!

Carmen said...

Great idea! If you need help gathering supplies, I have lots (buttons, fabric, needles, thread) in my stash I can donate to the cause!

Darren said...

Jeez, even I can sew on a button. I may not do it the "right" way, but the buttons stay on!

(This was a valuable skill when I was packing on the poundskis and the pants were getting tighter.)

rebekah said...

This is a great idea! I think all kids need to learn this.