Quilting & Math, Literature and Social Studies

I can barely sew a button back on when it falls off my husband’s shirt, but many of the women in my family are experts with a needle and thread. My grandmother quilts and has gifted us beautiful quilts we will always treasure. We also have an heirloom quilt that was pieced together by the quilting bee at my aunt’s parish when a trunk of hand-stitched quilting blocks was discovered in a relative’s attic. These blocks were determined to be sewn by my great-grandmother before the Great Depression.

eliyahquilt
The heirloom quilt that was pieced together decades after my great-grandmother first stitched the blocks.

The precious quilts made by my family made this particular book jump out at me when I saw it displayed at our public library a few weeks ago!

The Quilting Bee by Gail Gibbons tells the history and modern-day process of quilting in a fun, engaging way. The illustrations are bright and include many styles and types of quilting. Best of all, this book can easily fit into many content areas for the elementary classroom:

  1.  A literature unit on pioneers for books such as Sarah, Plain and Tall, Little House on the Prairie or Addie Across the Prairie.
  2. A social studies lesson on the Oregon Trail, as many of the quilting patterns and blocks were created and used by settlers who traveled west in the United States during the 19th century.
  3. A math lesson relating to topics of symmetry, geometry and shape recognition or tessellations.

And The Quilting Bee can also be incorporated in early childhood or preschool classes to touch on the topics of history, colors or teamwork.

Best Ages: pre-k – 3rd grade

For Parents:

  • If you have any family quilts, take them out and show them to your children. Or talk about their favorite blankets and how comforting it can be to have a special covering for going to sleep.
  • Visit a county fair or stop by a local craft/sewing store with your child. Show them the materials people use to sew today, as seen in the book.

For Teachers:

  • For older students, use this free lesson to have students will measure and fit together quilt pieces to make their own creations. Or check out this teacher’s idea for creating tissue paper quilt blocks.
  • For younger students, hand out this free printable of addition/subtraction practice that forms a quilting block. Students then color in the quilt block according to the key.

 

Women in the Bible & the 19th Amendment

The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution provided women with the right to legally vote. It is an important part of our country’s history. Being a female US citizen, I am grateful for my ability to vote… And grateful that my daughters will someday be able to vote, too.

When I found the picture book Miss Paul and the President by Dean Robbins at the public library, I was thrilled to read it to my daughters. It provided another opportunity to teach my children about our country’s history, the courage of many women who have gone before us, and the truth that men and women are of equal value and worth.

Miss Paul and the President explains how Alice Paul and other suffragettes worked tirelessly to bring the issue of the women’s vote to national attention. She met with then-President Wilson, organized peaceful marches in Washington, D.C., and traveled the country as part of a dedicated effort to influence Congress to pass the 19th Amendment. And in the 1920 presidential election, she was among millions of other women who cast their ballots for the first time in American history.

In reading this book, I couldn’t help but think of to the numerous women in the Bible who worked with equal bravery and commitment: the Hebrew midwives who refused to kill babies as the Egyptian king commanded (Exodus 1); Abigail, who successfully negotiated with David and his soldiers in the wake of her husband’s foolish and reckless behavior (1 Samuel 25); Deborah’s distinguished service as judge over Israel (Judges 4); and Lydia, a prominent leader in the early Christian church who ran her own business (Acts 16).

My Christian faith has given me a firm belief in the value and dignity of both men and women in God’s eyes. Despite the fact that some people have historically misused the Bible to promote their own agendas regarding gender roles, the Bible stands out among any other writings of its time. The Bible asserts that men and women are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and that there is no distinction between the worth of men and women in God’s eyes (Galatians 3:28).

Jesus Himself demonstrated counter-cultural behavior during His time, astonishing even His closest friends and disciples at times. He spoke with women in public with respect and compassion, even if they did not share his same religious background or were viewed as moral people (John 4, Matthew 15, John 12). He healed women and young girls, as well as men, without discrimination (Luke 4, Luke 8).

Pretty amazing!

Whatever your personal faith and convictions, I am sure that you will find Miss Paul and the President to be an exceptional read in the classroom at home. Plus, there are extra notes and a bibliography included at the end of the book for your perusal!

To read another excellent book by this author, see my previous post on Friendship in Hard Times.

Best Ages: 1st grade – 4th grade

Check out this article to find out more about the 19th Amendment.

Snowflakes and Science

Happy February! Is it snowing where you live? If so, you may enjoy reading Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

As a child growing up in Vermont in the 19th century, Willie Bentley was extremely curious about the world around him. That curiosity was heightened when he looked at snowflakes under a microscope and discovered that no two snowflakes were alike. When he was 17 years old, Willie’s parents parents decided to use their life savings to purchase him a state-of-the-art microscopic camera. From that point on, Willie Bentley dedicated his life to exploring nature and sharing his discoveries with the world.

Willie Bentley’s biography provides an outstanding example to children today of creativity, dedication and perseverance. The book also features wonderful sidebar notes for adults, teachers or older students to read to themselves for further information on Willie Bentley’s scientific work.  A black-and-white photograph of Mr. Bentley is featured at the end of the book, along with 3 breathtaking samples of the photographs he took of snowflake crystals.

On top of all that, the book won the the Caldecott Medal in 1999 for its incredible illustrations.

Snowflake Bentley is an excellent choice for a read-aloud or to incorporate in a unit on biographies, weather or science.

Note: As a biography, the book does explain that Willie died at the age of 66 years old of pneumonia. If you are uncomfortable discussing the subject of death with your children or students, you can skip the last 2 pages.

Best Ages: 1st grade – 4th grade

For Parents:

  • After reading the book together, explain the character trait of “perseverance.”  How did Willie Bentley show perseverance? Is there a time in your life when you displayed perseverance that you can share with your child?
  • For younger children, make snowflakes out of folded coffee filters. Hang them up with clear fishing line in your child’s bedroom.

For Teachers:

  • After reading the book together, discuss the word “perseverance.”  How did Willie Bentley show perseverance? How can you?
  • For 1st and 2nd graders, make snowflakes out of folded coffee filters. Display on a bulletin board and point out to students that each one is different.
  • For 3rd and 4th graders, post questions about the book around classroom. Number each question. Instruct students to number a page in their notebooks and walk around to look at each question – doesn’t have to be in order – and write down the answers. (If you’ve never tried this kind of movement in a review, divide your students into groups and set a time for 1 minute. Call out when it’s time to rotate.) Review answers to the questions as a class.
  • For 3rd and 4th graders, create a timeline of Willie’s life.  You may want students to refer to this Smithsonian webpage. Then ask students to illustrate the part of his life or scientific work they found most interesting.
  • Show this PBS video on The Science of Snowflakes.