Once a child has mastered the basics of simple crochet chains, he or she is ready to move on to the next step — single crochet. This stitch is very easy to master, and your students will be surprised by the variety of useful projects they can make with this one basic stitch.
The best place to start is with a single crochet square. You may not think you can do much with plain squares, but they can become many different finished items. Sew or single crochet two blocks together around three sides and add a simple chain strap to create a little purse. Crochet two blocks together all the way around to make a useful pot holder (cotton yarn is best for items that will be exposed to heat).
By stuffing a pot holder with fiberfill before joining the last sides together, you get a cute little mini pillow that can be decorated with crochet-chain embellishments, buttons, ribbon, lace, flowers — almost anything! A group of these little pillows would be cute on a child’s bed. You can also crochet squares together into larger pieces, creating a regular-sized pillow, a doll blanket or even a full-size afghan.
To get students started on making a basic single crochet square, use a smooth worsted-weight yarn and a size J/10/6mm hook. Have them make a chain as long as the desired width of their finished square. For example, a chain 10 inches long will result in a square approximately 10 inches wide, but gauge is not crucial for these pieces. Show your students how to work single crochet stitches back and forth in rows until the piece is as long as it is wide, making a square.
Encourage kids to experiment with color variations. Have them make squares in different colors and then single crochet them together with a unifying color for a patchwork mat or blanket. Show them how to alternate yarn colors on rows to create stripes. Color variations help keep single crochet from getting boring!
Now that your students have mastered the single crochet stitch, encourage them to use their new skill to make blocks they can join into simple projects for charity, such as pet mats for animal shelters, lap robes for patients in nursing homes and veterans’ hospitals, or blankets for homeless shelters. It will be a wonderful lesson for them to learn to use their crochet talents for the benefit of others.
Having accomplished the technique of single crochet, kids should easily be able to continue progressing to other basic stitches, such as half double crochet and double crochet, with only a little guidance and, as always, lots of encouragement.