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Zenovia Nash
Elizabeth, New Jersey

Janis Arquette
Bensenville, Illinois

Heddi Craft
Santa Cruz, California

Addie Gaines
Seneca, Missouri

Winifred Lau
Chicago, Illinois

Nancy Daly
& Cinda Dalebroux

Madison, Wisconsin

Marcia Poynter
Morrow, Georgia

Ellen Born
Phoenix, Arizona

Maria A. Scarpinito Quail
The Bronx,
NY, New York

Peg Beilfuss
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Reesa Smiddy
Raytown, Missouri

elementary school | middle school  | high school | college

Elementary School Reports

Teachers from around the country, working with students from pre-school through college, have been telling us how they're used quilts in their classrooms. . .

Zenovia Nash
Pre-kindergarten aide
Elizabeth, NJ

My name is Zenovia I am a Pre-K teacher aide. My teacher Mrs. Kennedy and I read The Quilt Story by Tony Johnston & Tomie de Paola, then our 4 year olds made a quilt out of white construction paper and tissue paper and we taped them together and put them out on the display wall out side of the class for everyone to see and it looks like a real quilt. That is the quilt of our class work together.

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Janis Arquette
Parent
Bensenville, Illinois

I am a former teacher. I am mostly a stay at home mom except for the volunteering I do at my children's schools. This year my daughter's first grade class studied reptiles, amphibians, fish, etc. I helped them make a fish quilt.

I made cardboard templates of very simple fish shapes. I planned that children would pick a shape, trace it on a muslin square (the fusibile backing was already on the back to stabilize it), and color it. The children would use fabric markers and color directly on the muslin. The teacher bought Crayola fabric crayons, so we had the kids color the fish on white paper, cut it out, then I ironed the image on the muslin. Their fish was reversed, but it didn't matter.

Children who wanted to do more, made seaweed, seashells and seahorses. It was easy to find good water fabric for the front and the back. I found so many different ones that we had the kids vote and made a flannel chart of the results.

It only took one class session for the kids to color a fish. I birthed the quilt at home (just the back, batt, and front). I came to class a second time to pick up the seaweed, etc and to let the kids place their fish wherever they wanted in the ocean. I took it home again to fuse the fish in place and quilt around each fish, add embellishment to the shells, seaweed and fins.

On a rainy days, when I knew there would be indoor recess, I came to the room with buttons and thread, and let interested students put eyes on their fish. I had also added three octopi, so everyone signed their name on an arm. The quilt is hanging in the first grade hall.

The middle school home arts teacher stressed the fact that the kids need this kind of experience early on. Beside the practical sewing skills, this is an opportunity to be creative and to increase self esteem. Instead of "I can't sew," the kids say, "Hey, I can do that." They are so surprised when they are successful, and success breeds success.

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Heddi Craft
Grade 4/5 Volunteer, Gault School
Santa Cruz, California

I have a whole Web site about making quilts in the classroom. It shows the quilts my students have made over the last six years, how-to's for others who want to make quilts, and a couple dozen stories from other teachers and parents who have made quilts with their children.

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Addie Gaines
Kindergarten, Seneca Elementary
Seneca, Missouri

We do a quilt unit in my kindergarten classroom each January. I have the activities on line on my Web site.

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Winifred Lau
Grade 1, St. Columbia School
Chicago, Illinois

Over the years I've made three different memory quilts with my first graders! One contains handprints from each student, another displays 'school fun' blocks and the last one illustrates springtime flowers. I've used them as welcoming banners and as classroom movable art throughout the years. Graduates love to come back and find themselves! I've used different types of mediums - acrylic paints, markers and fabric crayons. Two are machine quilted and the third is tied. They've even been in my local guild shows!.

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Nancy Daly & Cinda Dalebroux
Grades K-2, Franklin Elementary School
Madison, Wisconsin

[We did a] year-long textile arts project, entitled 'Fabric Storyscapes: The Threads of Our Community Explored Through Quilting', working with 30 parent volunteers in the school's two classrooms. All 400 children, ages five through eight, at the school participated in the planning, designing, creating and hand-sewing all the appliqué pieces for the quilts. Each class worked approximately four to six weeks on their quilt, with final assembly done by parent volunteers.

Quilt themes were chosen to supplement the curriculum, and children wrote stories and poetry to complete their "Fabric Storyscapes." Many teachers included an overview of the history of quilts, read many of the wonderful children's quilt books to their classes, encouraged children to bring in examples of quilts from their family's heritage or culture and found creative ways to incorporate quilts in all aspects of the curriculum.

The value of the Fabric Storyscapes project our school has been immeasurable. It has enriched and integrated numerous curriculum areas. It was promoted schoo/home involvement and united a diverse group of parent volunteers, teachers and students through planning and working together on this all-school project. And finally, it has given us all a hands-on experience of the historical experience of quilting through designing and sewing these vibrant works of fabric art.

One teacher summarized her experience by saying, "Not only did the children learn a life skill, their self-esteem soared as they saw their pencil and paper drawing go through the process of becoming a beautiful, integral part of the finished quilt." One eight-year-old boy was particulary excited about the lion he worked on as his part of Animals of the World quilt. After two hours of sewing he perked up suddenly and said, 'I have to show my class the miracle! I have to show them the miracle! He was thinking he said the word 'material', but it came out 'miracle'. In truth the project was very much a miracle.

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Marcia Poynter
Grade 5, McGarrah Elementary School
Morrow, Georgia

I have made two quilts with my students.

The first quilt was made while reading the book Little House on the Prairie. Each student was given a chapter to illustrate, then they transfered their pictures to muslin squares. The quilt squares were put together sequentially.

The second quilt was made after a study of tropical rainforests. Each student researched a different animal living in the rainforest. They then drew a picture of their animal in its natural environment with fabric crayons. The pictures were then transfered to muslin using heat and placed in the quilt according to which layer of the rainforest the animal is found.

My students had a great time. The quilts have been displayed in both the school media center.

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Ellen Born
Kindergarten Mom, Tumbleweed Elementary School
Phoenix, Arizona

In my son's kindergarten classroom, I helped the children learn about quilts when they studied the letter Q.

First I took in various quilts to show them and we looked at patterns and colors, etc. Then the children each designed a quilt square on paper using small fabric scraps glued onto paper. When completed, we assembled the quilt on the hallway wall outside the classroom with tape.

This was a pretty basic, unuseable, quilt idea. But the children learned the basics, had great fun, and also the difference between a quilt and a blanket!

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Prudy Court
Grade 6, Washington Communication Academy
Rockford, Illinois

I used the Log Cabin pattern to teach my students about accurate measurement and following directions.

I gave them an unmarked template and had them measure and mark the dimensions of each of the pieces. I directed them to choose three dark colors of construction paper and three light shades. They were to follow the dark and light pattern of the Log Cabin quilt. After they had constructed their squares, we discussed the importance of accurate measurement, the implications of being even a little bit off on one piece, and the evidence of following directions that could be seen in the color arrangement of their blocks.

They were engaged in the lesson and had a concrete example of the concepts I was trying to teach.

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Maria A. Scarpinito Quail
Grade K, The Children's School PS 257X
The Bronx - New York City, New York

We studied the author Patricia Pollacco. The main concentration was on memoirs and how Ms. Pollacco writes about her memories. We completed the study by reading "The Keeping Quilt." We decided to make our own Keeping Quilt so that I can remember each and everyone of the children.

The children wrote about a memory in our Writer's Workshop. We followed the writing process by conferencing, editing, revising and finally publishing our work. The final "picture and sentence" with each child's name was then traced onto vellum paper and colored with fabric crayons. The final pieces were then ironed onto a large piece of material that was then stuffed and backed to be "Our Keeping Quilt. The quilt was hung and displayed at our district's Annual Literacy Fair.

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Peg Beilfuss
Grades 4-6, Kennedy Elementary School
Green Bay, Wisconsin

As a teacher of deaf and hard of hearing students, I find that my students are very aware of visual stimuli.

My fifth grade math class studies measurement throughout the year, and as a culminating activity, we make a small quilt. Each student designs a quilt block, but only one is selected and repeated throughout the quilt. Emphasis is put on accurate measurements in cutting the quilt pieces as well as in (hand) sewing the seams. Students work together to select appropriate colored material.

When the quilt is finished it is added to the collection and hung in the classroom. Students return to see the quilts after they have left our building. This year, we are also making a fourth grade quilt as a part of our language arts class. It isn't finished yet, but the kids are looking forward to adding theirs to the collection.

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Reesa Smiddy
Grade 5, Southwood Elementary
Raytown, Missouri

At the turn of the century, the fifth grade class at Southwood Elementary was studying a unit on the Decades from 1900-2000. As a culminating activity, we created a quilt called, "Century of Change," and donated it to the school. The quilt blocks are in columns from left to right, each column representing a decade.

To decide what each student's block would represent, each student randomly drew a piece of paper from a bowl telling them a category (important events, fads, sports, music, inventions) and a decade. Next, the students researched for an idea, and then drew their idea onto paper. The pictures were then transferred to fabric with fabric markers. Each student then learned to quilt and quilted their own block. All the blocks were put together in decade order. Teachers in the building finished the edges.

The quilt includes 70 10"x10" blocks depicting such events as the sinking of the Titanic, the birth of the atomic bomb and Barbie, the creation of the Monopoly game, and the Rubik's cube fad.

The fifth graders presented the quilt to the school at their Fifth Grade Recognition Day in May. This project began in December and was completed in May, just before school was out. The students took great pride in what they had accomplished, and know that their quilt is hanging in the school so that they can come back when they are grown to show it to their own children.

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