I’ve had several requests for the poem I use to teach children to knit. Thanks to you folks who have been writing to me lately, it’s such a pleasure to get your notes!
Here’s my version of a fairly-often shared poem (for learning to knit American/English style):
UP through the front door,
Dance AROUND the back,
DOWN through the window,
and OFF jumps Jack!
They just love the “off Jumps Jack” part.
I’m also starting more and more to teach them to cast on by knitting on. The first time they knit, I cast on for them. When they start their second project, we do the poem, but instead of OFF jumps Jack, we say ON jumps Jack as they put the newly made stitch on the first needle by pointing tip to tip. It works well and I can teach them this very quickly in between working with a bunch of other kids.
My older kids get intrigued by how *I* cast on which is usually the “long tail” cast on. I call it the Itsy Bitsy Spider cast on (but my friend Sarah Peasley I think has a different cast on she calls Itsy Bitsy Spider, nothing like a little confusion). I have a couple of middle school girls who like to cast on and then pull the stitches off the needle, pull them out and start over. It’s like worry beads, perhaps. They have no desire to make something but they love to help others cast on for projects.
Oh… and when I teach binding off, I don’t do it the “normal” way. I teach them to “Up through TWO front doors” (knit two together)… and at the end they say OFF jumps Jack (which was 2 stitches) then ON jumps Jack (the one stitch on the right hand needle). So again I play on their ability to understand the knit stitch, and I teach knitting, casting on and binding off as variations on the knit stitch. The methods are just fine, they work well and are not compromises… and it also allows me to teach more children at the same time, requiring less coaching time per child.