Teaching crochet to kids is fun and with a few simple tools, even a novice adult can share crocheting for fun and build a child’s hand-eye coordination in the process. Crochet is ideal to teach kids because as plenty of adult tees proclaim, crochet is therapy! It provides a meditative activity great for travel, indoor time, and for building fine motor skills.
Teaching Kids to Crochet
Yarn for Teaching Kids to Crochet
Stay away from the fluffy, fuzzy, eyelash, or otherwise novelty yarns and opt for a smooth, non-luxury option. The classic Red Heart acrylic available in nearly every thrift store, auntie’s closet, big box, and craft store is a fine choice. Caron’s Simply Soft is a very smooth option, so and soft smooth that my 7 year old opted to use a skein of it to make a “softie” out of it; a 9×9 inch miniature comfort blankie. Save an artisanal, handspun skein for more experienced hands; you want the first foray into crochet to be guilt-free, easy, and colorful.
The bigger then yarn, the easier and more expensive typically it is. This makes sense because you’re paying for more fiber and it is so much easier to see the stitches you’re creating and to see a potential error and solve it immediately. The BEST giant yarn that I’ve used is felted (read: won’t pill), super strong, and works up so quickly the sense of satisfaction for a child (or anyone for that matter) is immediate. This yarn is sold by Love Fest Fibers and is called Tough Love. Indeed, a ball is more expensive than a skein of Red Heart, but you can make a basket big enough to hold a basketball with NO HOOK (which can definitely lower the intimidation of crochet) in under two hours.
A yarn that’s in between the wonderful Tough Love and the craft store standby Red Heart is Lion Brand Fettuccini. It’s a tee-shirt yarn – made presumably from would-be-waste from knit manufacture and it’s forgiving, soft, and large but not giant. It’s ideal for larger items, and it’s easily washable making it doubly kid-friendly.
Tools for Teaching Kids to Crochet
I’ve found great success in teaching both my 7-year-old daughter and the teenagers I taught in 7-12 grades in public school (my English students who needed an activity to focus the mind and keep the hands busy!) with a hook that is one or two sizes larger recommended for the yarn at hand. A larger hook results in easier-to-see loops and helps ward off the too-tight result of the worried or anxious new crocheter. The result is also a looser fabric that allows for a newbie to see their mistakes and failures clearly.
Hook 1-2 sizes larger than suggested for the yarn for learning to chain and making simple squares/scarves where a pattern isn’t being followed.
I’ve found no difference between metal or bamboo hooks.
Stitches for Teaching Kids to Crochet
Slip Knot- I often start out by doing the slip knot for the learner, so they can get to the “fun” of chaining.
Chain- a learner should practice the chain stitch over and over until every friend and family member has a friendship bracelet made of the chains. If the hook proves to be too difficult (read: not fun) to manage, chain with the fingers. I’ve found that I can include my husband easily in this stage of teaching because a chain is the way that long electrical extension cords are wound up on a job site. He didn’t know it was called “chain” but he definitely knows how to chain.
Single Crochet- I will 1. Model 2. Teach the little saying below 3. Let them try 4. Repeat.
Stick through the loop*
Wrap, pull through
Wrap, pull through 2
* [either in the chain or the top of the stitch on which you’re working]
I describe the “wrap” as being just like how the sun comes up from behind the mountains, always wrapping up from behind.
Another helpful metaphor before you begin or during is the idea of stitches being like bricks, and the crocheter is laying bricks on top of the row they just created. Describe to the learner that they are putting a stitch right on top of the one they built a few minutes before, the same way bricks are set atop one another. Legos make for a perfect visual aide in this instance.
Patterns for Teaching Kids to Crochet
I only have taught my daughter to count and maintain (if she has 10 chains, then she needs 10 stitches built on top of them) and I haven’t begun to teach her to read a pattern. I do know that in young learners, the aim is to keep fun and sense of accomplishment to a high and learning to read a pattern while they are still mastering stitches would be a mistake in my mind.
When teaching kids to crochet, I would begin with
Chain Friendship bracelets/collars for the dog or cat/various tools for superheroes (my son is a Batman lover and he made his Batman chains to tie up bad guys).
Single crochet softies/miniature blankets
Single crochet a rectangle to be folded in half and the edges sewn or slip stitched shut into a bag.
Single crochet a scarf for a doll or pet (smaller than a person’s scarf would be)
Single crochet a person’s scarf
Single crochet a small blanket/baby blanket
A doll sweater would be a great start.