Mala Bag Sewing Project

Lesson Plan

Mala Bag Sewing Project

About This Resource

Summary Students sew drawstring bags using a simple backstitch in preparation for the mala they will string in a future class. This lesson was created by Noa Jones at the Middle Way School for third grade students preparing for Rites of Passage. 


Duration: 1.5 hours

Ages: 8+

Teacher/student ratio 1:4

Big Ideas: It’s important to take care of sacred items. Sewing is a form of meditation.


  1. Sample mala bags
  2. 11” x 5 “ piece of fabric (one per child)
  3. Scissors (only if fabric is not pre-cut)
  4. Threaded needles  (one per child)
  5. Pieces of 16 inch string or ribbon  (two per child)
  6. Rulers  (one per child, ideally)
  7. Fabric pencils  (one per child, ideally)
  8. Safety pins  (one per child)


While some may find it challenging, third graders (ages 8-9) should be able to thread needles, cut fabric, and sew. However, we pre-threaded the needles and pre-cut the fabric to save time. The hardest part of sewing for them was when the thread was tangled. The students really seemed to get engaged once they saw several sacred objects displayed in bags. It made sense to them that these special items should be kept in a special place. There are more simple bag patterns. For younger students, simply adding a drawstring to a bag might be enough of a challenge.

Note on Fabric:  For this pattern, each child will need a piece of cloth about 11 x 5 inches. They can bring something from home  but there is a risk that it might be a difficult fabric to work with i.e. too thick, slippery, or fraying. Best is cotton. If they are all the same, it also reduces the possible sense of inequity. Or if each fabric is unique, you can pull names at random for the order that they can choose from a basket of options. Or if you are extra industrious, you can add a day to the activity and have the children dye their own fabric with indigo, flowers, or walnut.

Teacher Prep: Watch this video on how to make the bag and make one yourself before teaching. Prep the materials. 

Continue reading the complete lesson via the Google document.

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