| The purpose of the quilt was to teach the students about their community. The students in the classroom had a reading range of pre-primer through sixth grade. It was difficult for many of the students to grasp the concept of their own community just by reading and completing the activities in the social studies book. Making the quilt in the manner that it was done involved a variety of learning modalities. The end result was a story quilt that was researched, designed, and made by the students.
The quilt began as a month-long history hunt about the community. The students were allowed to gather historical information through any source available which included Fontana City Hall, the public library, old history books, long-time residents, or the Internet. The students brought the information to class and discussed their findings. They were given the opportunity to choose one important fact about the city and illustrate the fact. I, the teacher, met with each student and discussed the focal point of his or her illustration. I outlined their drawings with a black marking pen and told them to cut on the black line. The cut outs became the pattern for the felt fabric that was cut and glued on the quilt. (Prior to this part of the activity I had cut out two magazine pictures. One picture was a tree inside a picture frame and the other was a shoe. I showed the students that when I turned the shoe around the figure remained in a shape that identified it as a shoe. When I turned the tree around the only shape was that of the square frame. I explained that traditionally when quilters made a “story quilt” they would only use outlines of figures to remind them of the image that they wanted to remember. The shapes were picture cues to remind them of the information that they wanted to convey to others. We used this same philosophy in designing the quilt shapes for this project.)
We discussed the placement of the pictures after they were cut out. We decided to use the pictures as a chronological timeline of the general history of Fontana. The pictures were glued onto the background. Batting and a piece of backing fabric were sewn onto the quilt. I safety pinned the three layers together and explained to the students that they needed to anchor all the pieces together by sewing. Each place there was a pin the students were told to sew. They sewed freehand with a regular needle and quilting thread. They were so excited that they sewed during class and their recesses. It provided an avenue for discussion while improving fine motor skills as while learning about their community’s history.