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Heritage: Patchwork Quilting

Time Frame

5 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size

Large Groups

Life Skills



Lauren Tanner


In this activity centered lesson, the class will make a quilt commemorating the pioneer trek of 1847.


The book, 'The Quilt Story' by Tony Johnson and Tomie dePaola, 4inch square quilt blocks, batting, backing, yarn quilting needles and thread for a double sized quilt, quilt frames, tacks, quilt pattern designs found on the Utah Centennial Lesson Plans 'A Patchwork Quilt...People of Utah'.

Background for Teachers

Many quilts accompanied the pioneers across the plains. Quilts were very special for warmth on cold nights and each piece in the quilt had a story. This is how the pioneers kept some of their memories alive. The children's book, 'The Quilt Story' by Tony Johnson and Tomie dePaola, tells a story of a quilt made by a mother for her little girl and how it became dear to the little girl through the years.

Intended Learning Outcomes

The students will learn about the significance of the quilt in pioneer life. They will learn collaboration skills as they produce thier own class quilt.

Instructional Procedures


As an introduction the teacher will share the book, 'The Quilt Story' with the class. Compare and contrast pioneer times/modern times as shown in the book. What changed? Point out the significance of the quilt throughout the story. What did it look like? Show a hand made patchwork quilt from home or one that you have borrowed and tell the story behind it. Tell the class that they will be making a class quilt to tell the story of the pioneer trek across the plains. Encourage members of the class to bring special hand made quilts from home to show the class.

Gather the pieces of material brought by the class and talk about some of the ways it could be put together as a class quilt. Discuss how to cut figures out of the material and applique them onto another piece of material or make one of the traditional patterns of the pioneers. Come to a consensus of how the quilt will look.

After you have sewn the pieces together and have the top already to go, set up the quilting frame and stretch the bottom piece, fitting it onto the frame with the right side facing the floor. Tack the piece onto the frame, using just a few tacks at this time. Make sure the material is very tight on the frames as it will loosen up as you work on it. Lay the batting out on top of the material, stretching it slightly so that it fits perfectly. Place the pieced material on top with the right side facing up. Stretch it as tight as possible and tack it to the bottom piece. You may remove one tack at a time from the bottom piece as you join the two pieces together and replace it through all of the thicknesses. Keep all of the material pulled as tight as you can as it will loosen as you work on it. When it is tacked securely in place you are ready to either quilt it by stitching it together or tie the quilt. Organize the students into small groups to work on the quilt at different times of the day with a mother helper, if possible, to instruct them in the art of quilting or tying.

When the quilt is nearly finished, remove it from the frames and do the finish work.

When quilt is completed, display it in an area for all the community to see. Students can explain the significance of their piece on the quilt.


For younger classes the children can draw and color pictures about a special childhood event and attach them to a backgroud piece of butcher paper to make a paper 'quilt'. Or they could draw a picture of a pioneer ancestor or a symbol of the pioneer trek and do the same paper quilt. It could then be displayed in the hallway of the school, or in the classroom.

Students could draw pioneer symbols on the 4'square material and colored with fabric crayons, ironed and then pieced together, put on a backing, finished and tied with yarn.

Assessment Plan

Assess each students handiwork and participation in the making of the quilt.


Johnston and dePaola, Tony and Tomie The Quilt Story (Scholastic, )

Created: 04/09/1997
Updated: 02/04/2018