Flying Away Home

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SWBAT improve their knowledge of fractions and geometry to create a quilt square to enhance reading comprehension.

Big Idea

Students learn to appropriately use a ruler for two different purposes: 1. A precise measuring tool. 2. A straight edge to draw perpendicular lines.

My Lens

I have been looking forward to these lessons because they give students the opportunity to integrate their reading, math, and history skills through the creation of classroom quilts. The collaborative process is a lot of fun and it is a great way to integrate the arts.  The patterns I teach the children are famous for their legendary roles in escaping slavery.

Here is a Canadian website about Black History month and information about the role of particular quilt patterns.

This website from North Carolina has a lot of useful information about slavery, the Underground Railroad and the role of quilts as a secret code used by slaves as they ran to freedom.

The Underground Railroad Quilt Code Patterns Resource

Materials Preparation

Before teaching the mini-lesson and sending students off to collaborate with peers prepare materials.

Material Preparation:

Cut 30-40 8 by 8 inch pieces of copy paper.

Cut 2 inch long strips of colored construction paper.

Cut strips into 2 by 2 inch squares.  Cut some of the 2" squares on the diagonal to create a variety of colored right triangles.

Material Prep

Put squares and right triangles into containers. Have one container of each color for each table group to share.

Have sets of scissors, glue sticks, and rulers available for each table.

Make two examples to use in the mini-lesson.  I made one using warm colors and one using cool colors.

Prepare several examples of  the quilt square in different stages of completion to support students understanding of the process.



15 minutes

Bring students to the rug.  Explain that they will be making a quilt square pattern called Flying Geese.

"Today students you will strengthen your understanding of measurement, fractions, squares, and right triangles as you learn more about the role of quilts during the period of slavery in the United States.

(Revised directions and demo as per Reflection)

Watch me as I divide this 8 by 8 inch piece of paper into 16 2 by 2 inch squares.  First I will use my ruler and make a tiny slash at the 2", 4" and 6" point across the top of my paper. Next, I will rotate my paper 90 degrees and do the same thing.  I will use my ruler and precisely measure at 2", 4" and 6" at the top of this side.  Now, I will rotate my paper another 90 degrees and do the same thing.  I will measure and mark at 2,4,and 6 inches. Finally, I will rotate my paper another 90 degrees and mark across the top with a tiny slash at 2,4, and 6 inches.

The next step is to draw a straight vertical line with my pencil and ruler from the first mark at 2 inches and connecting it to the first mark at 2 inches on the bottom of my paper.  Here's a tip:  I will line up both the top and the bottom of my ruler next to the slashes before I draw my line.  Watch me as I work carefully and precisely so that my line is perpendicular to the top and bottom edge.  Now I will draw two more straight, perpendicular lines connecting the marks at 4 inches on the bottom and top of my paper.  Lastly I will connect the marks at 6 inches at both the top and the bottom using my ruler to line up the marks so my line will be exact.

Now I am half way done with my grid.  Now my paper is divided equally into four 2 by 8 inch columns.  Next, I will rotate my paper and once again connect the marks at 2 inches by drawing a straight vertical perpendicular line.  I will continue the process and draw a line to connect the marks at 4 inches at the top and bottom.  I have one more line to draw.  I will connect the marks at 6 inches on the top and bottom of my paper.  There, now I have divided my paper into 16 2" by 2" square grid.

This grid is going to help me know where to glue my construction paper squares or right triangles.

Step 1

Let me show you a completed quilt square of a pattern called Flying Geese.  This pattern was used in the times of slavery.  Legend has it that this design was used as a code.  This pattern on a quilt symbolized that a family was preparing to runaway by traveling north just as geese fly north in the spring after their migration to a warmer climate.   The runaways could follow the geese to find water and their way north. Sometimes songs were also used along with patterns in quilts to guide runaway slaves north such as Follow the Drinking Gourd.

The next step is to divide some of the squares in half diagonally.  I will give you an example to follow for this part once you have divided your paper in 16 equal sized pieces.  Is everyone ready to start?  Ok I am going to dismiss you to your table groups and the materials people will pass out our supplies.


Independent Work

20 minutes

On day one students will probably just have time to divide their paper into 16 equal sized pieces.

Have the materials people pass out the paper and the rulers.  Assist students in dividing up their paper.  If they finish, they can prepare another paper that is also divided up into 16 equal sized pieces.

With about 5 minutes left, have students write their names on the backs of their grids and have helpers pick up the rulers and grids for tomorrow's lesson.