Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Can quilting be used as part of the STEM initiative in the Elementary School curriculum?

I am going to start a page about using quilts, quilting and literature to teach elementary kids about quilting. The most important objective I wish to accomplish is to introduce this rich, uniquely American craft to young children as just that, an American craft with all the "hidden riches" of the Core Curriculum and STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math).

Introducing children to quilting is not intended to create "seamstresses" out of any of the students, but to educate them relative to the diverse lessons quilting contains. If you think about what I have written, I am sure YOU can come up with even more theories contained in quilting:

  • Art - patterns, color theory, repetitions, and just plain enjoyment of an individual creation.
  • Literature - stories, books, and articles that link quilting to real-life and families.
  • Critical thinking - teaching analytical skills that cause one to 'think' about how to solve a particular problem or issue.
  • History and traditions - "The world sews - America Quilts!!" But, where did American quilting come from? Why have we treasured it so much? But, more importantly, can we continue the tradition?
  • Science - Where did dye colors come from (other than Michaels)? What were the first colors used in dye and how were they invented? Does that mean now that we are in the 21st century, all colors and dyes have been discovered? No. just ask Heather Purcell from Superior Threads, she creates new colors with the help of science all the time. Plus - we all had such a great time dyeing fabric last summer!! Whoo hoo!
  • Engineering - I honestly didn't think engineering played into the whole quilting curriculum until I thought about some of the patterns I have created and realized sometimes I had to "engineer" the method used to complete the project. Such as the mouse pincushion. One thing we did recently in Thrilling Threads. There was the matter of the wire mouse tail holding the spool of thread. Without engineering, the mouse would either be sitting on her face or rolled over from the weight of the thread....that was a good one!
  • Technology - You would think technology just doesn't have much of a role in an old American craft such as quilting. Anyone who even peruses the quilt magazines today realizes everything dealing with quilting has gone 21st century. The magazines themselves have all gone to digital editions and speak about adding technology to quilting through computer programs that not only design quilts, but the computers that now power our sewing machines, embroidery machines, and even our Longarm quilting machines! Someone has to know how to build bigger and better equipment and software programs, AND LASTLY,
  • LIFE SKILLS (a hidden benefit) - Just teaching children how to handle a needle, thread the needle, tie a simple knot, do a running stitch, and sew on a button is LIFE ALTERING for them. I cannot explain how all of a sudden boys and girls are going home and beginning to repair all their stuffed toys, their friends' toys, their parents' pants, pockets, and anything else they can use a needle and thread to 'create' something they can use. It is a life skill they will always remember and use. It also allows students to be creative with what they have at home or what they can obtain. Again, it is not designed to create seamstresses out of anyone - merely an appreciation and use of a skill. Remember not everyone can afford to take their pants to a tailor for a pocket or hem repair. Teach the children and they will always know how to do it, forever!

    I will try to post some lesson plans as I develop them in order to share the integration of quilting into any curriculum.  I sincerely hope other teachers may read this blog and would like to start such an educational thread in their elementary school.

    My thanks to my friends in quilting and the 3rd Grade teachers at Tuscany Hills Elementary School who have embraced this project for several years before I ever heard of it, and to those brave teachers who are allowing me to 'mess around' with it! It was their perseverance that got me thinking about this all over again.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.