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Quilt a-Way

Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson not only is a great story about the African American culture and the significance of quilt making, its multimedia illustrations are a great way to kick off your own classroom quilt making session. This lesson can be as easy as arranging shapes and creating patterns or as intricate as layering colors and textures of paper, pastel and paint. Who needs fabric to make a gorgeous classroom quilt?

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Introduce the lesson by reading Show Way by Jaqueline Woodson. Discuss the events in the story. On lined chart paper, brainstorm the main characters of the story and their roles. Discuss what links all the characters together (sewing/quilt making). Identify shapes or patterns that reoccur in the illustrations.
    2. Explain that the class will be making a collaborative quilt with each square representing a child in the class. Show students many examples of traditional quilts.
    3. Students’ first task is to create a pile of 4”x4” squares from paper scraps, Crayola® Reversible Construction paper and/or wallpaper scraps. Students can use a piece of graph paper cut to size as a template or a ruler. When each student has at least 16 squares in three or four different colors/patterns, they are ready for the next step.
    4. Have students use their rulers to cut down their cereal boxes to 12”x12” squares.
    5. Students can now start gluing nine of their paper scrap squares onto the cereal box base to create a background. Encourage students to try different placements before gluing to promote aesthetic decision making and self-evaluation.
    6. When the backgrounds are complete, brainstorm with students how they can turn their remaining squares into other shapes to decorate their quilts (e.g., on an angle to produce triangles, into strips, into smaller squares). Students can cut more shapes from paper scraps or swap with peers to change up colors.
    7. Have students glue smaller shapes onto background to create pattern and contrast. Again, encourage students to try various combinations first and glue when happy with the arrangement.
    8. Students may add more decoration and organic shapes with Crayola® Classic or Gel FX Markers.
    9. Display squares adjoined as a collaborative quilt.
  • Standards

    LA: Determine the theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in a text; summarize the text.

    LA: Paraphrase portions of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

    MATH: Generate and analyze patterns.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

    VA: Students will intentionally select and analyze their artwork and the work of others when deciding what artwork to present.

  • Adaptations

    Have students bring in scraps from home (e.g., fabric, recycled materials) to create quilt squares so that it is personally symbolic or represents their families in the collaborative classroom quilt.

    Show Way tells about a family’s nine generations of women. Have students create a family tree that maps their own families.

    Have students do home research and present to the class on a tradition or item that has been in their family many generations.

    Conduct a larger classroom unit on the Underground Railroad (e.g., prominent figures, traditional routes, maps).

    Have students calculate area and perimeter of specific shapes or colors used in their quilts.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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