Story Quilt Project

3, 4, 5

The purpose of this unit is to recall that storytelling is a tradition and learn that quilt making is an American tradition. The learner will understand that working collectively brings about change, and that shared values help build communities. They will recognize the value of conflict resolution skills and learn that quilt making filled a need. The learner will also recognize that quilt making was often a family or community activity and that many quilts can be treasured keepsakes for families. This unit will reinforce the concept that traditions, like the threads of a fabric woven together, help build healthy communities.

Lesson Rating 
PrintFive Thirty-Minute Class Periods (read and discuss one book a period) One Thirty-Minute Class Period (Quilt Tables) One Forty-Five Minute Class Period (Story Quilt Project)

The learner will:

  • recognize the concept of philanthropy as an American tradition.
  • define tradition.
  • listen and respond thoughtfully to stories about quilt making.
  • verbally compare and contrast quilting stories and philanthropic concepts.
  • identify traditional quilt patterns that celebrated philanthropic activities and describe their historical significance.
  • Quilting as a Tradition (see Attachment One)
  • Working Together Brings about Change (see Attachment Two)
  • Shared Values Help Build Communities (see Attachment Three)
  • Conflict Resolution Skills (see Attachment Four)
  • Quilt Making Filled a Need (see Attachment Five)
  • Quilt Tables (see Attachment Six)
  • Story Quilt Project (see Attachment Seven)
  • books (see Bibliographic References)
  • chart paper
  • table worksheets
  • large empty cereal boxes
  • construction paper
  • yarn
  • ribbon, lace, fabric scraps, crepe paper, etc.
  • glue
  • tissues
Quilt Stories with Philanthropic Concepts
  • Ernst, Lisa Campbell. Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1983. ISBN 0-688-01517-4
    Summary: While mending the awning over the pig pen, Sam discovers that he enjoys sewing the various patches together but meets with scorn and ridicule when he asks his wife if he could join her quilting club.
  • Flournoy, Valerie. The Patchwork Quilt. Middletown, Connecticut: Weekly Reader Books Edition, 1985. ISBN 0-803-70097-0
    Summary: Using scraps cut from the family's old clothing, Tanya helps her grandmother and mother make a beautiful quilt that tells the story of her family's life.
  • Hopkinson, Deborah. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1993. ISBN 0-679-82311-5
    Summary: A young enslaved person stitches a quilt with a map pattern that guides her to freedom in the North.
  • Polacco, Patricia. The Keeping Quilt. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1988. ISBN 0-671-64963-9
    Summary: A homemade quilt ties together the lives of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family, remaining a symbol of their enduring love and faith.

    Additional Resources
  • Coerr, Eleanor. The Josefina Story Quilt. New York: Harper & Rowe Publishers, 1985. ISBN 0-060-21348-5
    Summary: While traveling west with her family in 1850, a young girl makes a patchwork quilt chronicling the experiences of the journey and reserves a special patch for her pet hen, Josefina.
  • Johnston, Tony. The Quilt Story. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1985. ISBN 0-399-21009-1
    Summary: A pioneer mother lovingly stitches a beautiful quilt, which warms and comforts her daughter Abigail. Many years later another mother mends and patches it for her little girl.
  • Ringgold, Faith. Tar Beach. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1991. ISBN 0-590-46381-0
    Summary: A young girl dreams of flying above her Harlem home, claiming all she sees for herself and her family. This story is based on the author's quilt painting of the same name.


  1. Anticipatory Set: Replay the song “Tradition” from the previous lesson...Help students recall the definition of tradition. (A special way of doing something that has lasted a long time because people care about it and pass it on to others.) Ask students if they think quilt making is a tradition. Why? Explain that over the next few days the class will listen to and reflect on stories about the tradition of quilting.


  2. The teacher should read and lead discussions on several of the books listed, using the following questions:

    • How do these stories illustrate that quilting is a tradition? (See Quilting as a Tradition, Attachment One.)
    • How do they show that working together brings about change? (See Working Together Brings about Change, Attachment Two.)
    • How do they show that living with shared values helps build communities? (See Shared Values Help Build Communities, Attachment Three.)
    • Did the characters use or learn any conflict resolution skills? (See Conflict Resolution Skills, Attachment Four.)
    • What were they?
    • How were they used?
    • Did these stories show that quilt making filled a need? (See Quilt Making Filled a Need, Attachment Five.)
    • How?
  3. Throughout the discussion the teacher should record responses on the board or chart paper using the format or similar format shown in the Attachments and keep on display for reference.

  4. Arrange the class into two groups. Give group one the table Who Made Each Quilt to complete. Group two should complete Quilts Can Be Treasured Keepsakes for Families. (See Quilt Tables, Attachment Six for both tables and the Answer Key.)

  5. Follow the directions for student quilts made out of boxes and paper. The quilts should sequence an act of philanthropy as demonstrated in one of the stories read. (See Story Quilt Project, Attachment Seven.)


Observe participation and contributions to discussions and charts. Check the table worksheets for accuracy. Make sure that the sequence sheet's captions and illustrations reflect the student's knowledge of six story events.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will make “quilts” that celebrate philanthropic activities.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.13 Describe limited resources and scarcity.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark E.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.9 Give examples how people give time, talent or treasure in different cultures.