Magazine article Arts & Activities

Huggy Bears

Magazine article Arts & Activities

Huggy Bears

Article excerpt

Giving back to the community is a great way to promote our art program and illustrate that what we do has value and importance, not only in the lives of our students, but also for the community.

I was fortunate when my district gave me time to go to a recent Kutztown University Art Education Conference. While there, I attended workshops, collaborated with colleagues, and learned new lesson ideas.

One workshop I attended was given by Norma Reichenbach-Nichols. She teaches art at Hereford Elementary School, and has an after-school quilting club for elementary school students. I was very impressed by this.

Teaching quilting with sewing machines to such young children would be a rewarding challenge. However, I don't have any sewing machines. Not to worry, Norma had another project she did with her students: hand sewing "Huggy Bears."

Our school mascot is the bear, so I thought this would be a perfect fit for our Art Enrichment Club, which took place during the last period of the day. Norma was very helpful, sharing her lesson plan and a sample Huggy Bear.

During a test run, I made a bear after returning from the conference. It was easier than I thought it would be! I just knew the students would like making these themselves.

I asked for material from family, friends, and colleagues--old sheets, pillow cases, and so on. The donations came in, even including stuffing! I made eight patterns of the bears, one for the outside shape, and one for the inside which is 0.25-inch smaller than the outside shape. This is used to trace on one of the outside bear shapes to know where to stitch it.

The Art Enrichment Club was ready, and we went to work. I taught them how to thread a needle, hang the doubled thread so it wouldn't tangle as they sewed, how to pin, while emphasizing the importance of placing the right sides of fabric together. They learned how to end one piece of thread and begin another, to turn the bears inside out and push out the ears, arms and legs, then stuffing the bears, and to look for any holes in their seams before sewing the opening closed. …

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