Great DT? It’s in the bag

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I had a fantastic week of DT last week. In my wisdom, early in the term I decided it would be a great idea to leave the DT until the last week and get it all done in one big block. Well, what an endeavour it was! Halfway through, I was sick of the sight of bags and said I would be happy if I didn’t have to tie another knot in a piece of thread ever again. But in the end it was all worth it. Anyway, to start at the beginning…

Our topic this term has been “People on the Move” and so as part of that it was decided that our DT would be to make a bag. We were quite short of materials, so we offered only binca, but there was a wide selection of buttons, beads, zips, threads etc that they could use to customise them.

I have to admit that I am not the best of sewing – never have been. To prove this to the kids, I took in the toy mouse I made when I was at school. He’s cute, but his head lolls at a very disturbing angle and his ears are sadly misshapen. However, he showed them that even if they are as bad at sewing as I am they could still make something quite nice!

The basic design of the bag had to be quite simple – a long strip of material that was folded in half, sewn up the side with a running stitch and then turned inside out to decorate. I got my TA to demo the stitching method using the visualiser (VERY effective use of this technology, absolutely excellent) and she also showed back stitch. I’d never heard of this but it was quite easy once I saw her do it.

I have a bit of an issue with DT. My worry in the past few years has been that I was showing them exactly how to do it, leaving no room for their creativity. We made Jack-in-the-Boxes a few years ago, and I had to show them exactly how long to cut each piece of wood, how to glue them together, how to make the outside, how to fold the spring, etc. Not much room for originality. But then some projects, if you just let them loose it can turn out to be pretty poor quality (such as when we said “make a house” with materials. Not very advanced modelling took place).

The project I liked best in the past was pneumatic modelling in Year 3. I taught them a few skills using syringes, tubing, balloons etc and then their imaginations took over to create fab moving monsters.

Well, now I have another favourite DT project. The bags are just the same. Teach kids a few simple stitches and methods, and then off they go and make some absolutely fantastic creations. The project started off slowly. A few kids were a bit dispirited as they tried to turn their bags inside out and all the stitching came undone, but I taught them a better way to tie off the knots and then they tried again.

As the days went by, they got more and more confident and happy with it. On the last day, a boy who does not find fine motor skills easy said, “I love this project. This project is awesome. Although it is quite hard at the start, but you get the hang of it.” I was so happy to hear him say that. Isn’t that what we really want in teaching? Children find something difficult, but motivation is high, they try and try, and they get the hang of it. That’s the sort of learning that I love.

At the end of the project, all the children had successfully made a bag, and I was amazed at the variety on show – some with inside pockets, some zipped, some buttoned, all different shapes and sizes, some made with material brought from home, all fit for purpose (eg gifts for mums, bags to carry a DS) and all unique.

That’s just the way I want my DT to be, and I’m going to try really hard to make the next DT project we do just as open-ended and engaging.

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