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.

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.


Teaching about the Role of the President

It has been a very interesting year in politics, to say the least. Despite differing views on our current president or the candidates for our upcoming election in November, I think most Americans agree that we have such strong opinions about who we would like – or wouldn’t like – to see in the White House because we hold the presidential office in such high regard. Since George Washington first took office more than two centuries ago, the president gives an unimaginable amount of his energy, time and resources to serve our country. We all recognize and value the efforts of our most famed and beloved presidents, and the disappointment and disillusionment of some less-than-shining moments of other presidents (“I am not a crook” comes to mind).

As a Christian, I personally do not put all my hope in a single politician, political party or even the idea of a democratic government. Still, when I taught professionally, and even now as I raise my own children at home, I desire to model how to how to thoughtfully and respectfully express one’s own political views.

But we don’t need to get into philosophical discussions in order to teach our young children about presidential duties or even to show how to participate in our democracy. In fact, in our home, we have recently had some discussions about who the president is and what the presidential duties entail as we’ve read the sweet and funny book My Teacher for President by Kay Winters. Many of the roles attributed to a teacher and the president of the United States will apply to home educators, too.

So kick off the election season in your home or classroom with a lighthearted read! And please feel free to share a teacher or role model you think would make a good president. 🙂

Best Ages: pre-k to 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • Refer to the illustrations of the teacher completing presidential duties. Explain to your child what the president of the United States does as part of his service to our country. Ask: Which responsibilities do you think are most interesting? Which would be most challenging?
  • Think of a person in your lives that embodies the qualities that are displayed in the book. Write him/her a letter and share your appreciation for all the positive and wonderful things he/she does!

For Teachers:

  • Prior to reading, ask your students what the president’s job is. Ask them what qualities would make a good president. Show them a picture of our current president, Barrack Obama.
  • Hold a mock election in your classroom (no worries about the electoral college here; it can be a true democracy!). Choose 2-3 candidates, using characters from favorite books or staff at your school. This mock election can be short with a simple explanation and vote, or drawn out with preparing posters and discussing information on the positive attributes of each candidate.
  • Write a class letter to the president of the United States. Have each student sign it and include a class photo or student artwork.