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A lesson plan on the Civil War, Slavery, and constructing a Freedom Quilt
Title: THE FREEDOM QUILT
Grade Level: 4-5
Length: approximately 2 hours
- The students will draw an event, symbol, person, or place which depicts slavery during the Civil War from the timeline as a piece of the freedom quilt.
- Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by: Deborah Hopkinson
- One 9×9 square inch of a neutral colored fabric per child
- Fabric crayons
- Timeline worksheet
- Black permanent markers
- Resource books on the Civil War (especially slavery)
For the Teacher or volunteer parent(s):
- Background material
- Sewing machine
- Needle and thread
Have the children gather on the floor for a story time. Read the book Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by: Deborah Hopkinson. After reading the book discuss as a group how slaves truly created quilts that they used as maps which lead some to freedom. Explain that the quilts were used as maps because they wouldn’t by washed away. Also, the white people wouldn’t know its meaning. Have the children return to their seats.
Start a discussion of significant events affecting slavery during the Civil War. Show the students the timeline worksheet. Have them create a timeline of events in groups of 4-5 by using the resource books in the classroom. Show the selection of resources available in the classroom for them to investigate and gather ideas from to draw a representation of an event, symbol, person, or place depicting slavery. Explain that they will be using their own representations to assemble a quilt as a class much like Sweet Clara’s. Have the children individually chose their representation to draw on a 9×9 square inch of neutral fabric with fabric crayons. Make sure that each child writes their name on their square with a black permanent marker.
Each child shares their representation of slavery on their 9×9 square inch piece of fabric. The class will compile their squares and agree on a pattern for the quilt. Allow two 9×9 inch square spots to remain blank. One of those blocks will contain the class name and date while the other will contain the name of the quilt that the class will decide upon.
The students submit their timelines to be checked for appropriateness. For example, the timelines will need to contain correct events, people, and places from that point in history. The students submit their 9×9 square inch block to be quilted with the others.
The timeline should be exhibited in the classroom. Have the children create a paper quilt of a “freedom map” to their own hideaway.
Hopkinson, D. (1993). Sweet Clara and the freedom quilt . New York: Knopf.
Lindquist, T. (1997). Sew up the year’s knowledge in fabric and paper quilts. Instructor, 106 . (8), 54-55.
Morris, S. (1997).
L.B. Bennett, personal communication. September 29, 1997.
The teacher will need to assemble the quilt or ask for parent(s) to volunteer to assemble the quilt after each child has completed their individual square. The iron listed under materials is for this purpose as is the sewing utensils. The time allotment for the lesson does not include the assembling of the quilt itself. Instructions for transferring the fabric crayons is on the back of its container. A good resource for assembling quilts is Quilting Activities Across Curriculums by Wendy Buchberg (Scholastic Professional Books, 1996). To order, call (800) 325-6149.