The Quilting Bee
To acquaint students with some of the activities of the early
To recreate an early quilting bee by completing a class quilt
- What were some of the activities of early settlers?
- Why did early settlers work together to complete house-raising,
logging or quilts? Why did they make these "festive"
- What was a Quilting Bee? What was the objective of the Quilting
- Ask students what they do for "fun"? Ask them if
they think these would be the same activities for children in
1796? How might they be different? The same?
- Question students about chores at home. Do they have to finish
their chores before they can play? Brainstorm with students on
how you can complete your chores in the most efficient manner.
(Set a scene: cleaning their room, cleaning the basement, cleaning
up after dinner, etc.) What are some ideas of how you could complete
your chore as quickly as possible? (steer children to the idea
that several hands are better than one). Then ask, how could we
make the chore seem like fun?
- Read the short story, "Mrs. Carter Had a Quilting Bee"
to the class and discuss.
- Display examples of quilting patterns that Laura learned.
- Exhibit a map of the United States and have students identify
Ohio and pinpoint the location of Cleveland.
- Ask students what they think is special about Cleveland. What
sites have they visited? Encourage them to volunteer information
about places to visit and things to do.
- Continue the lesson by explaining that we are going to have
our own Quilting Bee. We are going to create our own quilt designs
using Cleveland as the theme.
- Provide students with an 8" X 8" pattern and crayons.
Explain that each student will complete a square showing what
they like about Cleveland or what reminds them of Cleveland. They
are to be certain to incorporate their name somewhere on their
square. Students should work in groups, visiting while working,
perhaps with music in the background to help create the community
spirit and festiveness of a quilting bee. Give assistance when
- After all squares are completed, glue them together to form
their Cleveland Quilt. Squares could also be connected by punching
3 holes in each side and tying squares together with colored yarn.
- Invite in guests. Have the students present the quilt and
an explanation about what it means.
- Students may want to bring examples of quilts or quilted items
from home to share with the class.
- The class may decide to create a cloth quilt from their drawings.
Directions can be found in most craft or fabric stores. Students
would draw their pictures using a special fabric crayon that can
be transferred to fabric. Parent volunteers could sew the quilt
together. The quilt can then be displayed each year in the classroom,
school entrance hall or media center.
- In the short story, Mrs. Kingsbury mentions dancing the "Hie
Bettie Martin". Students may enjoy researching some of the
square dances of the early pioneers. They can then teach the class
and have their own "Frontier Dance!"