here to go to the Project Page
here to see a full view and detail of the quilt
Students of Mrs. McGraw's
Fourth Grade Class at the Gen. Bryant E. Moore School, Ellsworth,
June 10, 2002
|In mid-May my son's fourth grade teacher mentioned
my long-forgotten offer to work on a quilt project with the class.
With only four weeks to go in the school year, we needed something
fast, easy, fun, and of course, educational! Since the kids had
been studying symmetry in math, we wanted to use a design that
would help them see the possibilities for symmetrical patternmaking.
The class had also been studying the pioneers of the 1800's.
We decided that a modern-day version of the 19th century signature
friendship quilts would be fun.
block I drafted for the project has just three pieces and two
seams. There are lots of ways to arrange this simple block. Here
are two other options. Prior
to the sewing day, the students used one math period to try different
quilt designs using paper squares and a grid. You can download
this paper exercise from the project
page. The students decided on the final arrangement after
playing with the pieced blocks on a design wall.
|Our goal was to
have each student in the class of 17 make 4 squares. This would
give us enough squares so that each of the 66 fourth graders
in the school could sign a block. Making several squares also
gave each child a chance to improve skills by repetition.
Previous experience had shown
that pinning is one of the more difficult skills for children
to master, and with only one day available for the quilt project,
we wanted to keep frustrations (and seam ripping!) to a minimum.
Glue stick and sticky office labels were an effective substitute
for pins. Before the quilting day, I precut the fabrics and attached
the first piece (the white signature strip) to the paper foundations
with glue stick.
We had four adult volunteers
(including the classroom teacher) to work with the 17 children.
This ratio worked out well for this age group. We had two sewing
machines, with an adult stationed at each one. We've also found
that it's best if most of the kids have another activity to keep
them occupied, so that each child can have focused, one-on-one
attention during the actual sewing. When kids are lined up waiting,
things can get chaotic!
We met our goal of 4 blocks per
student, and finished the project just under the wire at the
end of the day! We left the blocks up on a design wall in the
classroom so that students could try different arrangements in
another class session. I pieced their arrangement together, adding
a few extra blocks to complete the border. Lynn O'Kane, a longarm
quilter whose son is a student in the class, did the quilting
using a variegated cotton thread in a swirly, looping pattern.
You can visit Lynn's website, www.pointyneedle.com, to see more of her work.
She has pictures of this quilt as it was being quilted.
This was a fun project for everyone
involved. If you've never worked with kids on a quilting project,
give it a try!
|Adult Helpers: Kathleen
Cravens, Pat Easa, Eleanor Guthrie, Lynn O'Kane, Nancy McGraw,
Jordan Babcock, Sabrina DeBeck, Sage Dyer, Stacie Francis, Marissa
Garwood, Alexander Homer, Katherine Jordan, Amada Klug, Joseph
O'Kane, Brandon Ouellette, Abigail Piacentini, Derek Potter,
Cheyenne Ranco, Samuel Reynolds, Brianna Smith, Sarah Stanley,
Bethany S. Reynolds
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