At my daughter's school, one of the first handwork projects they learn is finger knitting. They learn how to weave the yarn, using only their fingers, to create their own scarves, bracelets, belts, bag handles, and other creations they dream up that use a "rope" of yarn.
This is just the beginning for them. By third grade, they will learn to knit with knitting needles and they'll be crocheting by fourth grade.
But why do they need to learn to finger knit first?
It's all about getting the right and left sides of the brain to learn to work together better in order to optimize learning, their teachers say.
Not only does it help kids develop their yarnwork skills, but it also helps them learn and develop other skills too, from playing flutes and recorders in the early grades, to the violin in the fourth grade. Even penmanship and handwriting get a boost when kids learn to finger knit.
Here's why it works: each hemisphere of your brain has control over the other side of your body, which is why, when the kids were babies it was important for their development to "cross the midline." Similarly, kids in special education often have exercises that coordinate both sides of their body, which prepare their brains for learning. Finger knitting builds on these gross motor skills and helps develop fine motor skills.
And that's just the beginning of the things kids learn when they knit! They also learn hand-eye coordination, math, and how to envision a project and see it through to completion.
Those are all a lot of cool reasons to get your kids finger knitting, but if you ask my 9-year-old, she just thinks it's a lot of fun! (OK, I think it's fun too. Especially when I can whip up the perfect scarf for my outfit on the drive to my parents' house for Christmas!)
What do you need to get started finger knitting?
Just some yarn and your fingers!
The best way to learn is to watch someone do it, so here's a video of my daughter demonstrating how to finger knit:
Want to learn more about this subject? Check out "How to integrate your right and left brain through movement," and "Why Steiner Students Knit."
Laura Miller is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Appleton-Waupaca-Oshkosh, Wisc.