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America Quilts
A Century of Quilts:  America in Cloth

Quilts can be a creative teaching tool.

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. Read their reports.

Featured Report
Mary Muraski's 1998 Third Grade Class
Randal Elementary School
M
adison, Wisconsin

Here's how one third grade class turned their quilt-creation project into a lesson in history, culture and society.

In 1998, third graders in Ms. Mary Muraski's class at Randall Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin created this quilt.

The quilt commemorates the Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the State of Wisconsin.


Teacher Mary Muraski:
Through the fall and winter the class brainstormed different ideas to represent on the quilt: state tree, flower, animal, as well as other things that represented Wisconsin, including the Oscar Mayer 'Wienermobile'™ and Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

During the winter I began to meet with small groups of children to begin work on the quilt squares. Each child made a square for the quilt; the individual squares ranged from 8 inches square to 10 inches square.

Each child used muslin for the background and then used paint and marker pens on the fabric, and felt and embroidery thread to represent their themes. The children typically drew their ideas on paper and then we traced them onto the muslin or cut out a pattern to use on the felt. To minimize mistakes on their squares, most children either did buttonhole stitching or running stitch on their squares.

After the squares were finished I put them together with sashing strips between the squares and then quilted the entire quilt by machine. We added a final square of hand prints for the classroom to record the artists. The quilt now hangs in the entry stairwell at Randall School.

Parent volunteer Elizabeth Kelly:
We made the quilt to commemorate Wisconsin's Sesquicentennial. I asked each child to think about their heritage and what their family brought to Wisconsin. Each quilter chose something they wanted to represent on the quilt. Then they studied that topic in the library to understand its history, and they shared what they learned with the class.

The quilt helped the children understand that in our culture, and in our history, the parts make up the whole — that their story and the story of their family and other families make up the larger story of Wisconsin. This quilt celebrates that diversity and the appreciation of diversity.