Lessons in arts, crafts, culture and geometry..... Quilts!
Last night I was wandering through some preschool sites and found a reference to quilts. Since then my mind has been racing with all of the great projects you could do with this theme! So starting today we're doing a week of quilt activities. I thought I'd share some here, with some for all ages.
Construction paper quilts: We gathered up several colors of construction paper, a ruler, pencil, glue and white paper. I showed the girls how to measure two inches and made grids on the construction paper for two inch squares. I counted by twos and marked each one, then drew diagonal lines down some of the squares to make triangles and horizontal ones down others to make rectangles.
Victoria and I cut them out, and I showed her how a square became two triangles or two rectangles when we cut it. Then we arranged the pieces in patterns on our white paper and glued them. I helped Annalee glue her pieces. I also showed them how we could use simple shapes to make pictures like houses.
Another way to do this craft would be to make simple designs with the colors and shapes, and have your child try to copy them. This type of activity is supposed to be really good for developing spatial skills, which are important for a lot of mathematical thinking. I've read that puzzles and blocks are also good for developing these, and that girls are typically a little behind boys in this skill and could use extra time with them.
Art quilt: Our construction paper quilts are drying now. I'm using a big blank piece of wall by the stairs to create an ongoing quilt for artwork this week. As we do quilt projects with different mediums and designs, we'll add them to the work in progress. :)
Quilt books: Here are some books about quilting that sounded good.
The Josefina Story Quilt by Eleanor B.
A beginning reading book designed for children in lower grades to read, it tells the story of a girl and her pet chicken ("too tough to eat and too old to lay eggs") in a wagon train heading west. Josefina is making a quilt and records their adventures in it.
Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts
and the Underground Railroad by Jacqueline L. Tobin Raymond
This looks like a fascinating story of how quilts were used to encode routes through the underground railroad for slaves escaping to the North. In addition, there's a bit of a mystery and a personal story told at the same time.
Seven Sisters by Earlene Fowler
This might be a good read for teens if you want to involve the whole family in the theme. It's a murder mystery from the "popular quilt series" of mysteries. There really is a genre for everything isn't there?! :)
The Quiltmaker's Gift by The Quiltmaker's
This elaborately illustrated picture book has a bit of a cult following because so many adults and kids have fallen in love with it. The watercolor pages are worthy of framing, the pictures are full of hidden quilt names and details, and the message is a wonderful moral about giving.
I'm sure there are hundreds of others you could check out at your local library. Write me if you find a good one. :)
Real Quilting: If you have older children, why not take this opportunity to take up quilting as a new hobby for you to share? There are a lot of great books on learning to quilt and it's an art that costs next to nothing. You could start with a project using sentimental fabrics from clothes and blankets that have been loved to death. :) If you want to cheat, there are all sorts of great products to make it easier. You don't even have to sew nowadays!
Crazy Quilt Poems: Introduce your kids to the concept of crazy quilts, hodpodge designs where everything is all mixed up. Then encourage them to make a crazy quilt poem or story. They could even use the computer and mix up the fonts and colors of the text.
There are several ways you could interpret the assignment. One way would be for them to print out several poems or paragraphs and then cut them up, mixing the words and phrases up to make a new poem. They could also find a picture of a quilt and tell a story about it, guessing at where the cloth came from and who sewed it, and so on. Or they could just copy the style-- the crowded, chaotic, stream-of-consciousness jumble-- and fill a page with words and images without having to follow the usual rules.
Here's a poem I found online that I really liked. :)
Taken from The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America.
A Crazy Quilt
They do not make them any more,
For quilts are cheaper at the store
Than woman's labor, though a wife
Men think the cheapest thing in life.
But now and then a quilt is spread
Upon quaint old walnut bed,
A crazy quilt of those days
That I am old enough to praise.
Some woman sewed these points and squares
Into a pattern like life's cares.
Here is a velvet that was stong,
The poplin that she wore so long,
A fragment from her daughter's dress,
Like her, a vanished loveliness;
Old patches of such things as these,
Old garments and old memories.
And what is life? A crazy quilt;
Sorrow and joy, and grace and guilt,
With here and there a square of blue
For some old happiness we knew;
And so the hand of time will take
The fragments of our lives and make,
Out of life's remnants, as they fall,
A thing of beauty, after all.
That's what I've got so far but I'm sure we'll come up with more as we go along. It's such a neat subject because there are sneaky ways to learn things for all ages, plus so much rich history and culture. If you come up with your own ideas, write and let me know. I'll send them out in a second installment.
Okay, we now resume our regularly scheduled mail. ;) I just had to share that with y'all. As an update, the memorial for my mom went really well. It was beautiful.
Go get yourself a treat and do something fun.
Good night all!
A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2001, Alicia Bayer
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