Sewing, Cooking Pose Extra Challenge for FACS During Distance Learning


Images Courtesy of Madelyn M., Indi M., and Jack L.

Family and Consumer Sciences students sewed their own masks with sewing kits as home. Madelyn M., Indi M., and Jack L. show off their handiwork.

As students logged in for their first days of online learning in the Family and Consumer Science class, they weren’t sure how the class was going to work. When in school, students use sewing machines and have a special kitchen with stoves and ingredients for the cooking part of the curriculum.

“While FACS is not only sewing and cooking, these units are an important part of the curriculum,” explained FACS teacher Catherin Czifra. The curriculum, according to the Czifra, is so much more. It includes Human Development and Interpersonal Skills, which encompasses friendship and concept of self as well as Early Childhood Concepts like a baby’s developmental milestones. It also includes Living Environments, which can consist of anything from interior design to laundry and home organization. The list goes on: Family, Nutrition and Wellness, and Consumer Resources.

As the sewing unit got underway, students had many questions. Would they understand the directions? How could they get one-on-one help? Would they have access to the right supplies at home or have a workspace suitable for the assignments?

As you might expect, Czifra had to change the way she usually did things. For the sewing unit this year, she decided on something the students might find useful at the moment: facemasks. Students picked up kits from the school so they would have all of the materials they would need.

“The biggest difference is it is more difficult to do sewing and stuff because it is harder to ask for help and see what we are meant to be doing,” said FACS student Megan V.

Ms. Czifra relied heavily on her document camera so that students could see exactly what they needed to do.

“Students had to be patient with themselves, be vocal when they needed support, and practice!” Czifra said. She ultimately felt that the unit was a success.

Cooking was a whole other matter, as there are safety precautions to consider. According to the magazine¬†Taste of Home’s “Top 10 Kitchen Safety Do’s and Don’ts,” if¬†you aren’t careful, you can get cut while using sharp knives, burnt from the stove or oven, and even get sick from not preparing your food correctly.

Because there is no supervision by an experienced teacher, safety at home is a big concern. “I do have safety concerns about students cooking unsupervised,” said Czifra. “Students should always ask for permission and have adult supervision when cooking or baking in their homes.

While there were risks that students needed to be aware of, this learning experience can really help students feel more confident doing things on their own and feel more independent growing up. Also, Ms. Czifra did not make cooking at home a requirement but instead left that part of the process optional. She did create a space where students could post pictures of the cooking projects they tried at home.

Megan was a little disappointed, though, that she didn’t get to work in the kitchen in small groups and ask her friends for help, which is a whole different dynamic than supervision by a parent.

Czifra changed many of her lessons to account for distance learning, but she was most excited about one she created for the first time this year.

“I really enjoyed creating the Interior Design lesson. This was my first time using it. Students seemed to enjoy it, and WOW, their Mood Boards were really impressive,” she said.

Despite her successes online this year, Czifra is looking forward to getting back to face-to-face learning. When asked what she was most looking forward to, she replied: “Seeing and hearing students. I am looking forward to being able to provide hands-on help to each student, and of course, making pizza and cupcakes with everyone!!”