Teaching Cleveland
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Elementary School Edition: K-5

Lesson 4

The Quilting Bee


To acquaint students with some of the activities of the early Cleveland settlers.
To recreate an early quilting bee by completing a class quilt on Cleveland.



  1. What were some of the activities of early settlers?
  2. Why did early settlers work together to complete house-raising, logging or quilts? Why did they make these "festive" occasions?
  3. What was a Quilting Bee? What was the objective of the Quilting Bee?


  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. Read the short story, "Mrs. Carter Had a Quilting Bee" to the class and discuss.
  4. Display examples of quilting patterns that Laura learned.
  5. Exhibit a map of the United States and have students identify Ohio and pinpoint the location of Cleveland.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 needed.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!"

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