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Heritage First-Graders Make Their Own Friendship Quilts

What do you get when you fill a conference room with fabric squares, sewing machines, irons, quilt batting, first graders and some amazing volunteers?

A hands-on lesson that students will never forget. 

Melissa Gregory’s class had been learning about life long ago and comparing the past to the present. They discovered that basic human needs have remained the same, but they are met in different ways in different times and places. 

“We talked about how stores today are so much different than in the past,” said Gregory. “We discussed why people made quilts back in the day and why they make them now. Students learned that almost everyone sewed (by hand) in the past, and now it is more of a hobby.” 

Last year, Reading Specialist Amy Land came into Gregory’s class to talk about quilts and patterns, and the students made “paper friendship” quilts. But this year, Land and a group of volunteers helped the class make actual fabric quilts.

“The students were so excited about the project,” said Gregory. “We prepared by reading a ton of quilting picture books (which has tied in with reading workshop because I am currently talking about thick and thin questions and the books help students see the difference). We also watched how people made quilts back in the past and how they make them now.”

Each student sent in a yard of fabric that they loved or that told a little about them. The fabric was then precut into squares, enough for each student in the class to have a square. On quilt-making day, the students collected a square of each fabric and worked with a volunteer to sew them all together. 

First-grader Erika was hesitant at first being around the sewing machine, but she quickly learned the ropes from a parent volunteer. She was soon pressing the pedal of the sewing machine to make the stitches. Erika said she learned a lot during the project and was excited to “take my quilt home, snuggle with it and take a nap.”

Claire also enjoyed learning about how things were in the olden days. She found out how people used to smash corn by hand to make corn meal, as well as how they sewed their quilts. Claire plans to place her quilt on the back of her desk chair in her room and use it to keep warm.

Fellow first-grader Jack worked with his mom to sew his quilt squares together. He loves camo and wears it all the time, so his fabric choice was easy. He is ready to cuddle up with the quilt and watch a movie. Jack said that he and his mom might even make a pillow to go with it.

When students were asked if they would like to live long ago or now, some said they would like to go back and see what it was like – but just for a visit!