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Oooo-wee! I am so excited to share this with the blogging world. This is a unit that a fellow UAB’er taught during her “mini” student teaching this semester. When she came to our Wednesday night Social Studies class a few weeks ago and brought pictures of her class quilt that she had made with her kiddos — I was absolutely B.L.O.W.N. A.W.A.Y!!  {Ok, ok – I admit was also a tad jealous that I didn’t think of the daggone thing myself and am still jealous that I’m not able to teach it this semester…}  But great news for me – and for all of you reading this – it can be taught any time and to any grade!

So while this is not my idea – it’s still an idea worth sharing. Here’s how it works: The idea of story quilts can be traced back to many different periods of history and you can take it to whatever level you would like to in your classroom. You can adapt it to any grade level and you can teach as much – or as little (for young kids) – as you see fit. There is a ton of children’s literature out there about story quilts and you’ll quickly realize by just doing some quick research that story quilts have so much more meaning to them than you could ever imagine and they played a significant role particularly during the mid to late 1800’s. Again, you can take the unit into whatever historical direction that you wish – just take a peek at our good friend Google – or head on over to the library.

Here are some books that you might want to include to teach this unit. Each tells a different story about a particular quilt  – or a particular time – and would fit perfectly into this unit.

Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold plays a large role in keeping the history of story quilts alive. She is widely known for her paintings of story quilts, and this is a story about one of them.

The Quilt Story, Tony Johnston and Tomie dePaola
This is a bit of a different take on story quilts, and I think this is one younger kids could relate to.

The Keeping Quilt
, Patricia Polacco
Another different way that quilts can be used to tell a story. Of course, Patricia Polacco is one of my favorites – so I felt compelled to include this story.

These are just examples of the different ways you could introduce story quilts to your kiddos. Once they have an understanding of their historical value, then you can do the really fun part – make your own classroom story quilt! I tell you what – this makes for a GREAT hallway display and I promise everyone will be jealous that they didn’t think of it first. Teehee!!

Since I didn’t teach this unit {not yet, anyway} – I had to make my own mini quilt at home. My husband and I had some craft time together to color these little Thanksgiving pages, since it’s just a few days away. Here is my version – obviously yours will be larger if you have more than 4 students in your class:

Now, to make your classroom quilt, all you will need is:
• Large gallon-sized Ziploc (or generic) bags – one for each student
• Duct tape, preferably a “pretty” color (I got my aqua tape from the Dollar Store)
• Quilt patches from your students

—-> Have your kiddos make their own “patch”. Just provide them with an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper and talk with them about things that they might want to include on their patch to “tell” their story (whatever story they want!). You can show them different patchwork and how some have borders, some have different patterns, some have pictures, etc. – but it will ultimately be up to them to decide how they want to “tell” their stories. Encourage them to take their time on these! Have them use crayons, colored pencils, yarn, markers, colored glue, whatever they want! I just did the Thanksgiving pages to have something colorful to use as a sample – what you do in your classroom will depend upon how you approach the unit.

In order to prepare your display quilt, you will take all of the Ziploc bags and create even rows (however many students you have in your class) – Ideally, you’ll want an even number, say 5 rows of 4. You’ll use your duct tape to tape all of your rows together – but make sure you don’t tape over the tops of the bags! Otherwise, you won’t’ be able to slide the patches into the bags. (Whoops! Guilty!)
Take a peek at these close-ups to get a better idea of how to put these bad boys together:

Once you have all of the patches in your quilt display – you’ll be ready to hang it up and show it off. This is one of the cutest and best things that I’ve learned how to do since I’ve been at UAB! ~ I absolutely adore it ~ and hope you find it as useful and wonderful as I do!

Happy Quilting!

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