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Impact II: Projects & Lesson Plans: Our Family Quilt

Our Family Quilt 

HOW I T WORKS
Our Family Quilt is an interdisciplinary program that studies immigration. After reading about immigration, each child researches his/her own ancestors’ journeys to America through oral histories of family members. The students use a student-writing program to create an essay of their family history. Each child completes the history by reproducing family pictures with the use of a scanner. The essays are compiled into a class book entitled Coming to America. A family quilt is assembled as one of the culminating activities. Each child decorates a piece of material (usually felt) with his/her family name(s). Family photos may also be scanned to add to the quilt. The rest of the piece is decorated with replicas of flags from their ancestors’ country of origin and representations of activities and things, i.e., sports, foods, or symbols important to their family and culture. The pieces are sewn together to complete the project. Our Family Quilt further incorporates family histories with the technology needed to preserve it by using the scanner to recreate their ancestor’s pictures. The students give oral presentations about their pieces. They have a visual representation of each of their families as well as a representation of what it means to be an American. They gain a greater appreciation of what their ancestors had to endure and the common experiences shared with their classmates and families.  

THE STUDENTS
There are 25 fourth-grade students involved in this program. Three are in a self-contained special education classroom for part of the day. The students have a range of academic levels and technical experience and usually help each other with any technical or quilting problems. Although the initial ancestral research is done at home, the writing and the completion of the quilt is usually done in the classroom over a few weeks, depending on the level/speed of the class. The children work individually and in small groups. The program can easily be adapted to other ages and achievement levels. 

T HE STAFF
Sally Puma has been teaching for 16 years in the New York City Public Schools. She started as a Pre-K teacher in P.S. 121 and has taught first, second, and fourth grade, and a half-bridge class. She has  also led music and science workshops for other teachers in the district and was named Teacher of the Year for 1994-1995. She and her class have won a Humanitarian Award for making monthly sandwiches for the homeless. She is the recipient of two other IMPACT II Adaptor Grants (1992 and 2000). 

WHAT YOU NEED
Materials needed include computers with software programs such as Student Writing Center or ClarisWorks. Various art supplies are needed for the quilt. They include felt pieces, glue, markers, lettering, scissors, puffy paint, beading, glitter, thread, needles, a camera, film, and markers. A color scanner is very useful. As a culminating activity, a trip to Ellis Island should be scheduled. The book/computer program If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island by Ellen Levine and the web site
www.ellisislandrecords.org  are both excellent multimedia resources for this unit.

OVERALL VALUE
The students develop a sense of pride in their own culture while developing an understanding of others. They see how their own oral histories need to be preserved using the technology of today, and feel a sense of individual accomplishment after producing their report and quilt. They also work in cooperative groups and move closer to meeting the Standards in both Language Arts and Mathematics. The finished quilt becomes a beautiful representation of their family history interwoven with the histories of their classmates. 

View the Curriculum Unit/Dissemination Packet

CURRICULUM AREAS
Social Studies
Language Arts
Math
Technology

GRADES
4-8

MORE INFORMATION

Sally Puma
Nelson A. Rockefeller
P.S. 121
5301-20th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11204
Phone: (718) 377-8845
Fax: (718) 252-4075
sally.puma@ps121.echalk.com
Principal: 
Paul T. Esposito

IMPACT II Catalog 2001-2002

 

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