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Sew Happy Instructor Guidelines

Let’s Deliver and Manage a Successful Class
















  • Kids inherently want to please.

  • Kids thrive on routine and structure.

  • Kids feed on chaos! We want a calm and chaos free classroom! 

  • Kids are more likely to meet their goals of making their project if they are clear on what is happening, your expectations and their expectations. This is why we set goals.




Goal Setting


Sew Happy’s Goals:

  • To teach students the life skill of sewing in a fun, safe environment.  To want students to return to our programs time and time again, for schools to want us back and for you to want to continue to work for us.


Student’s Goals:

  • To learn or improve their sewing skills. To have had fun and feel satisfaction upon completion of their project.


Instructor's Goals:

  • To successfully deliver our program, with students completing their projects. To have felt empowered to do so in a well-managed and calm classroom.





  1. Prior To Start Of Program













Preparation, a positive attitude and a clear head will allow you to be 100% focused on the students and the project.


It is important to do a couple of things before your class to make the first day of class more successful. Each school is different and may require you to do several things such as park in a certain location, pick or drop off the kids in a certain spot and or use their own attendance sheets or sign out sheets. We are aware that this can be a little confusing and is one of the reasons why you must do your preparation prior to the first class. Get as much information from Sew Happy as you can and ask questions if you need more information.


  • School Location- It is required that you at least look up the location of the school so you know where you are going your first day.

(Optional but strongly recommended) Drive to the school so you can familiarize yourself with parking. It’s a good idea to go at pick-up time so you can make a plan for your arrival based on parking restrictions/one way systems etc).

  • Read the Sew Happy handbook and if you’re unsure about anything, please ask us!


  • Instructor Bin- Make sure your bin is organized and fully stocked, if anything is missing please let us know.



  • Most of our projects are printed on felt sheets and part of your preparation is to cut them. You can choose either to cut only the pieces required for the class, or to cut all the pieces ahead of time, We give you extra Ziploc bags to keep the pieces organized and ready to go. Have your supplies organized, cut if necessary, separated by project pieces and by students and ready to use.

  • Review the project, have the sample made (following the printed tutorial) and make sure you understand the instructions. If you are unclear about anything please contact Sew Happy.


  • Each project has a printed tutorial that matches the number of weeks the program will run


  • Depending on the length of the program (this is decided by each school), there will be more or less projects/steps. For example a 6 week program working on the “Hello Tote Bag” will only complete the Tote Bag, an 8 week program will also complete extra steps on the Tote Bag AND a keychain, longer programs will ALSO complete an extra project.


  • You shouldn’t need extra projects as our instructions are very specific and include “Extra work for students who finish early”



  • Be clear about the project goals AND the weekly goals


  • Make sure your apron is ironed and ready to go!

2. First Day Of A New After School Program

Instructor Arrival

Arrive to the school with supplies at least 30 minutes prior to class start time.

  • If there is a required parking location remember to respect the wishes of the school and park at the designated location.


  • Check in with the School Main Office (depending on the school they may require ID or in some case ID provided by the City)

    • Ask for the location of the On-Site-Coordinator/ After School Program Director


  • Check in with the On-Site-Coordinator/ After School Program Director

    • Prior to your first day of class you should have been provided with the school info through When I Work. We try to keep everything up to date, but please check with the school representative on the first day to see if anything has changed. The most important things to check:

      • Telephone number for After School Club Coordinator in case of incident or emergency

      • Do cell phones work in the building

      • When using school phones, do you need to press “9” to get an outside line

      • Is there a lock-down procedure

      • Where is the nearest emergency exit (to the classroom you will be teaching in)

  • Ask for attendance sheet (a sign out sheet may be given to you also)

  • Ask where are the locations for

    •  Meeting students for class

    • Dismissal (if the info has not been provided by Sew Happy).


  • Ask if you are required to stay with the students at the drop off location or is there a dismissal procedure. (We will try to get this info ahead of time but it’s not always possible.)

























3. Classroom Arrival & Set-Up


Greeting Students

  • Take time to greet your students before you do anything else.  IF POSSIBLE DO THIS INDIVIDUALLY AT THE DOOR AS THEY ENTER.

  • Use their names if you can. Learn their names and use them as much as possible.


Greeting students at the door (or in the classroom) sets the tone for the class. It tells each student that you know and care about them.  It creates a ‘start’ to the class and an ‘end’ to whatever it was they were doing previously. Doing this with a positive attitude and big smile affects the attitude and mood of the students. Try giving students the options of a fist pump, high 5 or elbow tap as they introduce themselves. ( see our classroom management videos for more info about this.)


Classroom Set-up

Depending on the classroom you are allocated (it could sometimes be a cafeteria, gymnasium or music room), decide how you are going to set up the room, taking into consideration the amount of students in your group. You will not be able to set up the classroom ahead of time, you will be arriving WITH YOUR STUDENTS.


Here’s how to make the best of your surroundings:

  • Look around the room and if there are not enough tables and chairs or if there is any other issue, ask the On-Site-Coordinator.

  • There are some cases in which there are items left behind from the class, for example, art work, so neatly move item/s off tables and chairs and put them where they won’t get damaged during your class. (Remember to put them back where they were before you leave).

  • You may need to move some tables and chairs around (don’t spend too long as you don’t want to lose valuable teaching time).



  • Allocate a “Teacher Table” and use this as a base for you, your bin and supplies so you can find everything easily and efficiently. You should also have room for a student to sit next to you if need arises.


The ideal scenario is for the students to sit in a circle where your desk is in the center so that you have easy access and consistent access to all students.  Unfortunately, we have little control over the space we are given to teach in.  Whatever the layout, try to place your desk up where you have good visibility to all students and where no particular students/student appears to continually have the favorable seat.


  • To start with you should keep all the supplies in your bin except for:

    • An empty pincushion

    • Attendance sheet & ball point pen

    • Name labels & Sharpie


4. Weekly Welcome Meeting


Every week, before you start on the project, you should have a “Welcome Meeting” which should take place preferably on a rug away from the desks and without other distractions (If you do not have a rug in your classroom you will do it seated at the tables but without anything in front of the students which could distract them, like pincushions, needles, etc).

The welcome meeting is an opportunity to get the students enthusiastic about the class and to set expectations.  Be confident, enthusiastic and welcoming.


​1. Gather


After greeting the students at the door, and asking them to place their bags in a designated area, have them sit on the rug. Write each student’s name on a sticky label with the Sharpie and have them wear it today so you can get to know their names. (You can have them peel it off and stick it on their project bag at the end of today’s class.)



2. Take Attendance


It is required by Sew Happy that you take attendance. If you are provided with an attendance sheet from the school, we require you to fill out both their attendance sheet as well as ours for our records.



3. Ice-Breaker


As an ice-breaker/getting-to-know-each-other exercise, play the “Pincushion Game”

  • Starting with you, say your name and tell one fun fact about you.

    • “Hi I’m Mrs. M. and I was born in England”  or “Hi I’m Miss Kim and my favorite food is xxx” (Make it a different topic each week)

  • Pass the pincushion around to each child and only the person holding the pincushion should be speaking.


4. Goals – use the word ‘goal’ as the students are familiar with it:


This is where you show the students the samples of the projects they will be making.



  • Project Goal – Remind them of the overall project they are making, show them the sample and say some positive things about it, like:

“Here’s the super cool tote bag we’re making!  It has a pocket on the back for my keys and I’m going to use mine for carrying my books”


  • Goals for Today – Set expectations by giving specific, clear and positive goals.

“Today’s GOAL is to learn how to thread a needle, tie a knot and sew some stitches.”



Be excited!  Kids pick up on your energy!




​5. Classroom Rules


  • In the first week, collaborate with your students to create the classroom rules. We will provide you with a list of non-negotiable rules and other suggested ones, but it is important that the students come up with the rules, so write theirs down first (on a large sheet of paper provided by Sew Happy). If the students missed any of our non-negotiable rules, prompt them or add them at the end. This sheet will be displayed each subsequent week as a reminder.


  • For each rule suggested by a student, ask them why it’s important. Ask them to suggest examples of how that rule might be broken.


  • Keep the rules simple and easy to understand.  The rule sheet should be a living document that rules can be added to or adjusted as needed.


  • Because the students come up with the rules they will be more likely to abide by them.  By displaying the “Classroom Rules” each week, it makes it easier to enforce the rules and the students are more likely to remember them.  Refer back to the rules throughout the lesson where necessary.

Non-negotiable Rules

  • Safety - be careful with sharp objects (scissors, needles, pins)

  • Keep your hands to yourself

  • Walking only, no running

  • Be respectful, patient, kind

  • No food

  • No cell phones


Other Classroom Rules

  • Try your best

  • Don’t interrupt teacher or other students

  • Take turns






5. Start Working On The Assigned Project For The Day

  1. After the “Welcome Meeting”, have your students move to the desks/tables where they will be working on their projects.

  2. Pass out the pincushions, needles, needle threaders, thread, scissors and “practice piece” (you can assign students to do specific jobs).

  3. Begin teaching


Step 1 : Threading The Needle

We use different needles and threads depending which project you are working on:



  • For Me & My Doll Projects, Daxie Days, Ice cream, Fox In A Sleeping Bag & other older projects:-

    • Crochet Thread, #20 needle, Dritz Metal Needle Threader

    • You will be using a single length of thread with a knot around the needle. Explain to the students when measuring the thread – “Measure a piece of thread as long as your arm, from the tip of your nose to the tip of your finger, and cut (by your finger, not your face)”


  • For Hello Tote Bag, Hedgehog House, Llama Drama & Newer Printed Projects:-

    • Sewing Machine Thread, #6 Needle, Wire Needle Threader

    • You will be using a double length of thread with NO knot around the needle. Explain to the students when measuring the thread – “Measure a piece of thread as long as your arm, from the tip of your nose to the tip of your finger, double it, and cut (by your finger, not your face)”


Step 2: The Sew Happy Knot

  • Use the Sew Happy method to demonstrate tying a knot.

  • If you are using the crochet yarn, tie a knot around the needle


  • TIP! Have the students lie the needle and thread on the table to make the loop. Show them how to overlap the needle and thread. Try saying the rhyme “Take the thread and put it to bed” as you lay the thread on top of the needle.


  • If this is too much for the students at this point you may give out your pre-threaded and knotted needles.

Step 3: Start Sewing


  • Hand out a practice piece (supplied with each kit) to each student.

    • For Llama Drama the “practice piece” is a mug rug

    • For Hedgehog House, the “practice piece” is a blanket or bookmark

    • For projects without a specific “practice piece”, use a 4” felt square

  • Point out the ”large purple dot”, the “small blue dot” and the “green lines in between” and guide them through stitching along the straight lines on the practice piece.

  • Time goes fast so you will only have time to do 1 or 2 rows as it will be time to clean up…




Step 4: Lock Stitch

  • You may not get this far during Lesson 1 but if not, you will need to teach it in Lesson 2.

  • Make sure the students know that when their thread is down to 4”, they must tie a knot (lock stitch) and start a new piece of thread.

    • There are laminated “rulers” in your Instructor Bin which should be placed on each table for this purpose.

  • To make a lock stitch – make a small stitch (preferably on the back of the fabric) and pull the floss through until there is only a small loop.

  • Take the needle and insert it through the loop. Pull firmly and this is the “lock”.

  • Repeat to make sure it is secure.


  • After the welcome meeting is over and students start their projects, you (the instructor) should try to stay seated at the designated “Teacher Table”. This may not be possible at the first class as you will be demonstrating needle threading and the Sew Happy knot.

  • Allow students to come to you when they need help.  In this way you will be able to see what everyone is doing instead of getting stuck with one student. The students will always know where you are. If a particular student is asking for more help than they need you can ask them to try again themselves or to wait while you help another – to keep it fair.


  • TIP - Create a “Buddy” system – each student has a buddy (the person beside them).  When a student needs help they have to try 3 times to fix it themselves. If they are still having trouble they can ask their buddy to help them.  If, with the help of their buddy they still can’t do it, then they can come to the teacher's table and wait patiently in line until it’s their turn.

6. Clean Up

  • It’s important that the students help with the clean up.

  • Set your alarm for 15 and 10 minutes before the end of class. The 15 minute alarm is a 5 minute warning (and you will be surprised how quickly the time goes!)

  • When the second alarm goes off, students should stop what they are doing and put away projects

    • Show students how to place needles onto the projects by inserting needle 1/4 of the way in the fabric and then bringing it up so the needle is secured onto the fabric

    • Tell students to place all of the items they have been working on inside of their Ziploc bag. Remind them to stick their name label on the bag.


Distributing jobs


  • Have one student collecting all of the Ziploc bags

  • Hand the Magnetic wand to one student to collect spare pins and needles on and around the tables

  • Have one student collect the scissors

  • Have one student collect the pincushions

  • Have one student collect needle threaders

  • Have the rest of the student clean threads and scraps from on and around the tables

  • If stacking chairs is required have students help stack chairs


Leave the room the way you found it!



​7. Dismissal


  • Have the students gather all their belongings and line up at the door (Do NOT let any student take their project home before it is complete)


  • If parents/guardians pick up from classroom have them sit on the rug while waiting




  • Dismiss students as required by On-Site-Coordinator/ After School Program Director

    • If the school requires you to have parent/guardian sign students out make sure to follow their instructions

    • If you have any students not picked up 10 minutes after class is over hand students over to assigned person and make sure to use Dismissal forms provided by us

      • NEVER LEAVE STUDENTS UNLESS AN AUTHORIZED SCHOOL REPRESENTATIVE HAS SIGNED THE DISMISSAL FORM. (If the authorized School Representative refuses to sign but takes responsibility for the remaining student/s please inform us as soon as possible so we can follow up with the school.)



​8. Time Keeping

You need to stick to the provided schedule so that the project gets completed on time and not ahead of time. Please give feedback to us if you are finding this difficult and we will advise you.



Tips For Keeping On Schedule


  • It is important to spend the designated time demonstrating and teaching how to thread a needle, tie a knot etc. After all, THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF OUR PROGRAM! Do NOT skip this step please.


  • When explaining the lesson plan at each class, follow the instructions provided by Sew Happy and keep the steps short and simple.


  • Keep everyone at the same part of the project.

    • If you have students that are fast here are some suggestions:

      • If they finish early have them work on the assigned “Extra work for students who finish early” (you’ll find this in the printed tutorials)

      • Give them a more advanced stitch to do (if you have time to teach them without taking your attention away from the rest of the group)

      • Contact Sew Happy as soon as you think you have a more advanced student and they will discuss options with you

      • Ask them to be your helper and hand out project pieces or help other students when you are unavailable

    • Do NOT let a student go to the next step. This will create a problem.





9. Consequences For Undesirable Or Dangerous Behavior


Consequences must be consistent. When you have a student acting out for any reason, ASSESS if it is because they are attention seeking or if they are struggling with the project. DO NOT ASSUME that they are misbehaving.

How to deal with attention seeking students:

  • If a student is, for example, being disruptive, being the class clown by burping, singing or other unacceptable behavior:-

    • Deal with the first occurrences of misbehavior by redirecting the student's attention to what he or she should be doing, rather than singling out the undesirable behavior or assigning punishment.

    • Switching a student’s seat may also help if neighboring students are encouraging disruptive behavior.

  • If a student is still being disruptive:

    • Get up from your teacher table

    • Walk over to the student

    • Make eye contact

    • Say to the student “I see you are having trouble keeping your hands to yourself/following the classroom rules etc. This is your first warning. After 3 warnings you will be asked to leave the class”.

    • If the student continues to misbehave, do the same again but this time say “ This is your second warning, please come and sit by me to see if you can keep your hands to yourself/follow the classroom rules etc. If I give you a third warning I will call the After School Coordinator and you will be asked to leave the class.”

    • If the student still continues you MUST follow through and call the After School Coordinator.


  • If any warnings have been given please fill out an “Incident Report Form” found in the back of your Instructor Binder and report the incident to Sew Happy asap. 

How to deal with a student who is struggling to focus:

  • A student who may not be able to stay focused is not necessarily misbehaving. A student who is unable to complete the project may not be able to do so due to coordination, dexterity or interest. Try to be aware of each student’s limitations. In a case like this do not give them a “warning” but try other things that may encourage them:


  • Get up from your teacher table, walk over to the student, make eye contact and say to the student “I see you are having trouble keeping your hands to yourself, do you need to need to go for a walk to the back of the room and back? Or "Do you need to go to fill your water bottle?”

  • If this doesn’t help, then move them to the seat beside you at the teacher’s table and say “It looks like you need to have my help with your project so come sit by me”


  • If the first 2 steps do not work, you should tell them you’ll have to contact the school coordinator “We are having trouble working together today and you are having difficulty following the class rules, so now we need to call the school coordinator”.







10. Tips for Keeping Your Students Happy and Your Class Successful


  1. YOU can make all the difference!

    • Your mood, your tone and your overall presence is the most important factor in running a successful class.  The way you introduce a task will be reflected in their reaction. Kids feed on chaos. Being organized, knowing what you are doing and having your supplies ready and prepared is ESSENTIAL!

    • Model the behavior you want to see. Talk about what YOU are doing:

“ I’m putting my pin in my pincushion so it doesn’t drop on the floor’

  • Make eye contact and LISTEN.  Listen to their responses or answers.  Ask open ended questions in an effort to get them to explain what is it they need or are curious about.




​2. Give clear instructions


  • Make it clear and precise

    • “Please stand up and push your chairs under the desks”

    • “Please place your pins into your pin cushions and place them into your Ziploc bags”



3. Give praise

You cannot praise enough! Ensure you praise everyone, even if it’s difficult.  Sometimes praise is about not doing something wrong as much as about doing something right!  Praise is a tool you have, to build relationships and get the students to really want to please you.  It works!

  • Praise the specific not the general

  • Specific praise leads to a repeat of that behavior as it’s easily understood

  • General praise is vague and hard to know exactly how to repeat

    • Instead of ‘you’re so good’ say ‘your stitches around the foxes eyes are so neat’

    • Instead of ‘you’ve been well behaved’ say ‘I’m proud of how you’ve stayed in your seat today’

  • Seek out the students who need the praise, they probably won’t be the ones finding the project or the class easy.



4. Validate their feelings


Validate the students’ feelings (both spoken and unspoken). It’s important and it works!  It means SAYING back to them what they said or how they might feel. It leads to them feeling heard and understood. It builds relationships:

  • Example - a student says “I’m tired, I don’t want to sew”

    • I’m Sorry you’re tired, it’s hard when we’re tired.  Sometimes when we do something it can take our mind off being tired.  Why don’t you start and see how you feel.

  • Example - you notice a child becoming frustrated

    • It looks like you’re finding that hard, it’s so frustrating when we can’t do something. I like the way you’re still trying. Let me help.


5. Keep it positive – focus on the positive and try to avoid point out the negative as kids inherently want to succeed.  They will repeat the positive.



6. Getting and keeping their attention


It’s hard to get the attention of the full class especially if they are chatting and distracted but it’s important you have a tool that

  • The students understand and has been explained to them

  • That is consistent and used regularly

We recommend using the “One, Two, Three, EYES ON ME”, “One, Two, I See You” (you clap on 1, 2, 3 and they clap back on their 1 and 2. Make it fun – make them repeat if it’s not done loud enough.

To get their attention do not shout. It doesn’t work! Use the above or use the hand in the air and finger on the lips. 

  • If you can’t get the attention of one student, go up to them and talk quietly to them as this makes them listen!  It’s counterintuitive but it works!

  • Praise them when they stop to listen to you.


7. Shaking Out The Day


If the class seems particularly fidgety or are struggling to stop and start your class it might be a good idea to ask them to do 10 jumping jacks or something else to just release that energy.


If a child won’t stop singing, it’s okay to stop the class for a very quick one chorus of a song – get all the kids to stand and join in then sit down and move on.






11. Accidents & Emergencies


Hopefully there should be no real emergency during a class, but we can never be too careful. If there is any real emergency call 911 followed by the On-Site-Coordinator/ After School Program Director (if applicable) and then Sew Happy.

*We have provided bandages with your bin if you require more, contact the office


  • There is no food allowed at any of our After School Club or Sewing Machine School classes which should curtail this issue happening.

Needle/Pin Pricks/Cuts-

  • This is the most common “Emergency”

    • Tell them to be careful next time and reassure them that it happens all the time to even you

    • Suggest to go to the bathroom and run it over cold water

    • If all fails, ask them if they wish for a bandage


*To protect you all make sure to make an accident report form, take a picture for our records and hand it to parent/caregiver. If you require extra accident report forms you can find them in the instructor area on our website.

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