The Youth Program develops and implements a variety of textile-related programs for youth in grades Kindergarten - 12.  The programs emphasize skill building, science exploration, design analysis, consumer awareness, and community engagement.  Developed for the more than 9,000 New York youth enrolled in 4-H, these programs are also used by school-age childcare programs, scouts, schools, science centers, and other youth agencies.  Educational materials are supported with training for adult and teen leaders.

4-H Clothing Curriculum

This youth manual addresses the clothing topics of textiles properties, construction, selection, care, safety, and community service.

This youth manual covers the same topics as Unit 1 but at a higher level, plus it includes information about personal grooming and appearance. 

This manual is designed for boys and girls who are experienced in the project and capable of more complicated projects.

A manual for educators and volunteers who lead youth in Units, 1, 2, and 3.

 An introduction to non-sewing or minimal sewing textile activities such as weaving and tie-dyeing.

Fabrications introduces basic weaving techniques for young people to learn to weave, braid, twine, wrap and loop yarns into a decorative textile.  A culminating team design challenge utilizes all of these structures.  The activities are available below in individual and collective pdf formats.  They are also available on eCommons@Cornell

Collective Fabrications pdf

Individual Activities:
Weaving Plain, Cork Coaster
Weaving Twill, Cork Coaster
Weaving Satin, Cork Coaster
Braiding, Bracelet
Wrapping, Keychain
Twining, Basket
Ghiordes knot, mini-rug or coaster
Weaving, placemat
Design Challenge

A community service project that encourages youth to make research-based, age-appropriate recreational items for persons who have Alzheimer's disease. Patterns and detailed instructions are included for 16 items such as sensory vests, fleecy muffs, message magnets, and stress balls.

  • National 4-H Resource Directory describes curricula that have been reviewed and approved by 4-H and are sold through the 4-H Mall.
  • Winky Cherry has written a series of hand and machine sewing books for young children.  Available from bookstores and online.
  • Bunkhouse books by JoAnne Gagnon teach girls and boys how to sew clothing for themselves as well as items for their homes.
fabric with electronics and lights

Fiber Science and Technology

We all wear clothes and use fibrous materials everyday! Activities based on fibers and textiles provide a familiar, relevant, and fun way to learn science and technology. Projects are designed for sequenced learning, but can be used individually.

The Activewear Advantage

Activewear is high performance clothing originally manufactured for professional athletes, but now also worn for most sports, fitness activities, personal comfort, and even high fashion. Exploration of this topic allowed teens to experience technology, meet researchers and designers, explore careers, learn STEM concepts, and help develop educational resources.  To learn more about what's happening in the activewear arena, check out the videos and activities below. Grades 6-adult.  

This program was developed with funding from the New York State 4-H Foundation.

Style Engineers

Style Engineers is the new moniker for the Smart Clothing, Smart Girls — Engineering via Apparel Design Project that tests whether middle-school aged girls can be attracted to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and to information and communication technology (ICT) through fashion design and the study of smart clothing, functional garments that respond to a variety of stimuli (heat, pressure, movement, etc.).  It is a collaborative project with the University of Minnesota that leads a parallel program with Minnesota youth.  To explore the activities with your group of young friends, browse the leader guides, student handouts, videos, design challenges and more at the Style Engineers website. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1139466.

The Fabric/Flight Connection

The Fabric/Flight Connection explains the role of textiles in aviation. Youth explore the principles of aerodynamics, textile properties, and functional design.
The manual is available on eCommons @ Cornell http://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/30232

In-Touch Science

In-Touch Science, an NSF-sponsored program, helps children in grades 3-5 to understand the science connection between different fields of study and to recognize science concepts in their daily experiences. For information on training modules, evaluation reports, workshops and more, view the In-Touch Science website: http://www.intouch.cornell.edu. In-Touch Science was developed and distributed with funding from the National Science Foundation. 

For ready access to the website, print and distribute the In-Touch Science bookmark.

Go Figure!

Go Figure! is an interactive web-based program that engages youth, ages 8-19 in science, technology, and math experiences. Users follow jean trends, calculate their average Frisbee throw, make a Smoothie, and measure their water use. Visit the Go Figure website and try it!

Plants & Textiles—A Legacy of Technology

This online curriculum focuses on past and present technologies that convert plant materials to textile products. Youth make a tool, try traditional techniques, research modern production, and link to a community agency such as a museum or nature center. Topics include papermaking, rope making, indigo dyeing, net knotting, and mat weaving. 

Additional information, to view how-to videos, and download activity instructions (pdf).
For ready access to the website, print and distribute the Plants & Textiles bookmark.