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February 27, 2015 Reading Response Book Quilts By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    I have truly embraced my inner “arts and crafts” self. If someone had said to me in September that infusing art into my teaching would become my mission of sorts, I would have laughed. I mean laughed hard. You know, the kind of laugh where your belly hurts and tears are streaming down your face. That would have been me. But now during this past year, I find myself making sure that I include something artsy to help bring my lessons to life. Case in point — this next project.

    During the month of March, schools across the country will be celebrating Read Across America and Dr. Seuss's birthday. Classrooms will be buzzing with all types of activities designed to foster a love of reading. My classroom will be no different. I have planned a quilting activity that Christie Wright Johnson, a fellow 2014 Scholastic Reading Club Teacher Advisor, did with her students. Her class created a quilt based on the books that they read.

    This seemed to be the answer to my search for a project where my students would need to do more than just read and complete a prompt for their independent and at-home reading. This project is easy to complete, eye-catching, and connects to literacy standards. It is also a great way to highlight the books that my students have been reading throughout the year. My plan is to get the quilt up and running and continue to display it until mid-June. This project feels like the perfect match of teaching and fun. 


    Creating the Book Quilt

    Materials Needed:

    • Quilt template (I located this online)

    • Construction paper

    • Crayons

    • Magic markers

    • Colored pencils

    • Scissors

    • Glue

    • Ruler

    • Masking tape

    • Bulletin board paper (optional)

    A few of my students helped me by completing a trial run. They were willing to give up their recess to assist me with working out the kinks and coming up with a plan so that their classmates would be able to complete this independently.

    Here's a peek at the process:



    The template that we used came with directions that I have decided to modify to suit the needs of my students and our curriculum. While the directions on the template tell students to write about their favorite part of the book, I may also ask students to complete the template using one of the following focus points:

    1. Central idea

    2. Theme

    3. Lesson learned

    4. How characters respond towards change

    5. Comparing and contrasting characters

    6. Setting


    First Attempt

    For our first attempt, the focus was identifying and illustrating the central idea of a book and checking it with the design.


    Without Border


    With Border

    Before displaying the story quilt, my students and I decided to create a sampling of the actual quilt. We discovered that when the construction paper was cut, the sizes were not exactly the same.


    Coordinating the pieces so that they would have a uniform look became tricky. So we now know what hurdles to overcome when we work on the quilt as an entire class. For example, check the measurements of the cut construction paper so that they are consistently close to the desired size.

    The rollout for this project will be during the week of our state assessments, which happens to coincide with Dr. Seuss's birthday. After my students have completed the assessment section for the day, they will create a book quilt piece that will be “quilted” with the others and come together to form one huge display. Our class quilt squares will be adhered to the wall outside of my classroom giving the appearance of being sewn together. Another option would be to glue the story quilt squares to a large sheet of bulletin board paper. The bulletin board acts as a backdrop for the squares, also giving the appearance of being sewn. 

    Stay tuned for picture updates of our quilting in progress. For other ideas on activities to do with your students for Read Across America, check out fellow blogger Alycia Zimmerman. She has some wonderful ideas that can be used across the grades.


    Pearls of Wisdom — Mix up the class routine. Combine with another class to work together. Changing up the routine is one way to re-energize you and your students.

    Do you have any Read Across America ideas to contribute? Please share! I love sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier!


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Susan Cheyney