Quilting Our Communities
Teacher: Mimi Dyer, Kennesaw Mountain High School

Overview: This lesson allows students to share personal artifacts that emphasize the importance of place, history, and culture and to compile those individual memories into a classroom community quilt.

Materials: Students’ personal artifacts, camera, construction paper, laminating machine (if available); word processors; packing tape; wooden dowel; wall hangers

Time: Approximately 1 hour for student sharing; 30 minutes for word processing of student writing; 1 hour for mounting of photos and writing and layout of quilt; teacher assembly time depends on resources

Instructional Sequence:

  1. Begin with an explanation that quilts were originally made by taking pieces of old clothes and piecing them together to make a useful household item, or you may ask them to do a quick research of quilting. The intent is for them to realize that quilts represented pieces of a family’s history, culture, and selected memory. You may do an Internet search for "quilts" using any good search engine.

  2. Brainstorm with students the concept of artifacts.
    1. What does "artifact" mean?
    2. What kinds of things can be considered artifacts?
    3. Why do people save artifacts?
    4. Is a community defined by the artifacts it chooses to keep?


  1. Ask the students to bring in an artifact that represents something about their history or culture, i.e. a photograph of grandparents, an heirloom music box, their favorite childhood game or toy, a family bible or genealogy, a family recipe, etc., along with a 10-sentence (suggested length only) explanation of the historical and/or cultural significance of the artifact.

  2. Have students share their artifacts and writing.

  3. Take photographs of each artifact, whether two or three dimensional.

  4. As a class, decide the color scheme of the quilt. For example if students select a green and yellow theme, lay out the construction paper on a table or floor so that they can see exactly what the quilt would look like when pieced together. Explain that the photos and student writing will be mounted on the construction paper.

  5. Take students to writing lab to word process their ten-sentence explanations. Make sure everyone uses the same font style and size.

  6. Give photos and student writing to students to mount on construction paper. Make sure you have decided on a template for mounting, i.e., the photo will be centered 4 inched from the top, and the writing will be centered 3 inched below the photograph. Maintaining consistency of each quilt piece will make the finished product look much better.

  7. Lay out all finished products on a table or floor and decide exactly which piece goes where. Tape one to the other on the back, using packing tape. If necessary, you can use "filler" pages to give an even look to the finished quilt.

  8. Laminate the quilt and hang on classroom wall, if possible. You might consider trying to construct a wall hanging system by using a wooden dowel and extra laminate plastic as the top of the quilt that goes over the dowel. You may also choose to mount the quilt on a bulletin board.

  9. Students write a reflection of both the process and product of this lesson.

Evaluation: This project doesn’t have to be formally evaluated; rather, it may serve as a springboard to a study of community and cultural diversity. Everyone’s story of "place" is different, and it is through understanding difference that we come to appreciate others. This lesson also serves to build a learning community in the classroom.


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