Elizabeth and I began a new unit this week, centering on the book A Quilt Story by Tony Johnston and Tomie dePaola. I must admit that I have found these last units much more intriguing than the first, really reaching down deeper and hitting on more interesting topics than those in the beginning of the curriculum. I think the book selections for the last units have more defined themes and better storylines; perhaps they speak to me more than those at the beginning of the curriculum. Elizabeth seems to share my sentiments, and has really been interested in the activities in this unit.
Of course, a unit about quilts must involve designing quilts and practicing sewing. The curriculum brought with it a piece of burlap, some needle-point thread (I can’t think of it’s proper name), and a blunt sewing needle (that actually kind of looks like they may have cut the end off of it, but I’m not really sure). The burlap did not come with it’s own design pre-drawn, so Elizabeth was able to choose what she wished to make, and luckily chose an easy shape like a circle. She did an awesome job at the stitching, and was so into it that she then requested to do a triangle. As she was working, I thought to myself, ‘Hmmm, this may be a cheap and easy hobby that we could continue.’ 🙂 Especially as she seemed to like it so much.
Elizabeth also loves patterns, and the curriculum brought some die-cut shapes that we put together to form other shapes, for example: two squares = a rectangle. That was new to her, and she got it right off, except ‘6 triangles = a hexagon,’ even I had problems putting that together! Then, we colored all of the shapes with the intention of making a paper quilt, and since the guide diagram had some funky designs on the shapes, we went funky in coloring too! In making her quilt, I allowed her to make the final decisions about how to design it, but casually suggested that she layer some of the shapes and turn them this way or that to fit onto the page. I was pleased with her ability to use those concepts in the final project. We also glued in a way that she is not accustomed to: laying out the design and then gluing, as opposed to gluing as she makes the design. I know it sounds easy, but for a 5-year-old, it was a totally different way of thinking!
As an extension to the curriculum, I pulled out some quilts that we have, two of which were made by my friends for Elizabeth herself when she was an infant! Unfortunately, Paul was never given a single hand-made gift specially made for him! Poor guy! The woes of being a second child…I should know… Ok done with my pity party – I’m a second child too, you know! 🙂
Anyway, we discussed how the pieces of fabric are made into designs and what makes a quilt. The curriculum had a link to look at some quilts online, but their colors and designs were very repetitive patterns, as opposed to the random patches of colors and designs here and there that I think of when I think of quilts made from scrap fabrics. On the other hand, the photos on the link made it appear as though many of the quilts had been made at a quilting convention or party, and we discussed a little how, in the olden days, women gathered to quilt together as a way to make the quilts more interesting, personalized by each contributor, finished faster, and as a way to spend quality time together while “occupying themselves gainfully,” a phrase that we learned in our last unit.
A second extension that I was able to add in was a trip to a local store that makes hand-sewn quilts. We live in an agricultural area that has a high Old-Order Mennonite population, the women of which continue to make their own dresses at home. The store owner has additional sewn goods for sale in the store besides just fabric, including quite a number of beautiful quilts. Elizabeth was completely intrigued by my Dad’s neighbor who was busy sewing hand towels with a nifty cloth ring to hang over the handle of the stove. It was a fun outing, and a place that takes me back to some old memories – just the smell of it reminds me of some pillow cases that my grandmother sent me while I was in the Peace Corps, missing home. I kept them in the package as long as possible so the scent would stick to them longer. Perhaps some part of our experience so far with homeschooling will instill happy memories in Elizabeth so that she will think back nostalgically at some point in the future, I know I already do.
My thought following that is that our prospects of even being able to finish out the kindergarten year homeschooling seem to dim and dim as the weeks pass. The job ideas that I had been planning so that I could stay at home just aren’t panning out and I am applying to full-time positions at the moment. What that will mean for homeschooling when I do get one, I don’t know. Some people homeschool in a single-parent home, can we figure it out? Our future sure is uncertain right now, but as such, I am trying to fit the homeschooling in as much as possible while I can. I am continuing to plug away at the last bit of organizing the curriculum we will begin in a few units (if you haven’t been following my blog, we are currently finishing up the last units of the pre-k curriculum we used and will be moving onto the kindergarten curriculum when it’s done, though we have officially begun our kindergarten year). I try not to worry about it, because there’s not much I can do this way or that. The cards will fall where they will fall and I am just trying to get to a point where I can support us financially because that’s what’s most important. If I can continue to homeschool I will – and keep blogging about it too.
Thanks to all my readers and friends for your support, I really appreciate it!
Share your thoughts: Many curriculums include sewing, what are some interesting sewing or quilting projects you have done with your students?