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Classroom quilts inspire reading grades

By Staff | Mar 11, 2014

15 blocks were made, one by each student, for this quilt on family traditions in Stacy William's (top right) third grade morning reading class at Myers Elementary School in Muncy. Brenda Shaffer (middle top row) volunteered her time and materials for the project.

MUNCY – The third grade reading classrooms at Myers Elementary School were really busy so far this school year.

For the students in Stacy William’s classes each created a quilt to be given away at the end of the school year. The idea came to her when one of the student’s grandmother, Brenda Shaffer from Muncy, volunteered to come into the school to work with each of the students to design their own quilt block.

They chose a theme that revolved around family traditions. This tied in nicely with their reading anthology’s story, “The Keeping Quilt” written in 1988 by Patricia Polacco. It is a story about Russian immigrants and family cultures and traditions. Readers learn how the family quilt is used for many purposes, from weddings and funerals, to being used as a tablecloth at family picnics and to bundle up newborn babies. The “Keeping Quilt” was a tapestry of scraps made from generations of clothing over the years.

So the children were inspired by this book and Mrs. Shaffer’s willingness to help each student express their own family traditions.

She started out by using her own stash of fabrics with pre-cut 9 inch squares, one for each student. Then the students were able to take the squares home and come up with their own design.

Third grade reading students at Myers Elementary School made a quilt as they read "The Keeping Quilt" during their reading series. Mrs. Brenda Shaffer (back row center) came in every Wednesday to work with the students on their quilt based on family traditions.

Caroline Kilgus used a fabric marker to draw a train and a car and sewed on flowers for her block because she said every year her family likes to visit an amusement park. Scott Johnson did a beach scene in fabric paints because every summer his family visits the Outer Banks. Jason Shuda drew his. “It was cool. I got to make a quilt for the first time,” he said and pointed to his square that showed lots of ways to hunt.

Every one was different and every student got to make one, so each square is unique. Alexa Rice said she enjoyed the project because it reminded her of her family’s tradition time at Christmas with the three Wise Men which she depicted on her square with embellishments.

Since October, Shaffer came to Myers Elementary School every week on Wednesday mornings to work with the students, not only with their quilt blocks but also with their reading skills. The project continued until December when Shaffer completed assembling the quilts with each student’s block. She cut borders and chose fabrics with bright colors and supplied all the finishing materials. “The kids pinned and tied the quilt and chose the colors they wanted,” said Shaffer. The quilts were finally completed in February.

“We got to use the quilt for a tablecloth for their Valentine’s Party,” added Mrs. William.

To this day everyone gets a turn to hold the quilt according to their teacher. “We rotate names and they get to keep it for half a day while they are with me,” she said. “They are proud to see their work and it was a great hands-on learning project,” she added.

At the end of the school year, the children all agreed to donate their quilts, preferably to a nursing home or a foster home.