Catherine Berlo’s students wanted to learn to sew and sew to learn. They have found many creative uses for the sewing machine she introduced into their classroom, and the use of math and language arts developed while they created projects.
Berlo teaches in the alternative education program at Schrop Elementary School in Springfield, Ohio. She said that the machine, which she won for $2 at an auction, worked for a week and then “it died.” She spent around $80 in repairs and brought it back to the classroom. She does not know how to sew, but she watched in amazement as her students began to enjoy sewing.
Music teacher Erica Richardson stopped by and asked “what are you guys doing?” Berlo responded “We don’t know.”
Richardson makes sun dresses and sends them to children in Africa. She offered to help, and got the students to work on sewing the seams and hems. Students learned to sew in straight lines.
They then made complete projects themselves, and the first was aprons for Mother’s Day. After that they made purses, pillows, and began to experiment.
“I have just been letting them fly,” Berlo said. “It is math, it is reading. We learned the vocabulary.”