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Second-grade education outside the BOX

Kelli Chastain’s students show off examples of symmetry in their mini quilts.

Dana Sedersten’s churn dash class paper quilt creation.

Article and photos by Celeste McNeil

What do literature, geometry, fractions and advanced vocabulary words have in common? Buffalo Ridge Elementary (BRE) second-grade students cozied up with all these topics and more while creating their own paper quilt blocks. Second-grade classes read A Cloak for The Dreamer by Aileen Friedman to begin the unit. They learned about how shapes interact with one another and about area and perimeter. The story sparked the children’s imagination as they played with pattern blocks, shape tiles and paper squares. They discovered various types of patterns, including repeating-shape and mirror-image patterns. The math lessons continued as students were introduced to fractions and how they interact with the whole. Students learned to cut and manipulate paper squares to create new shapes as they experimented with symmetry.

Every student made a churn dash quilt block. When combined, each class created a paper quilt. The churn dash block is a traditional American pattern, dating to the early 1800s. Its basic form is simple but interesting. Many beginning quilters, including BRE’s second-grade students, implement this nine-patch variation. The students enjoyed spotting the secondary patterns and shapes which emerged when individual blocks were assembled together. Several of the students also created a mini quilt of their own pattern or design.

Dana Sedersten’s churn dash class paper quilt creation.

Kelli Chastain, Megan McGuire and Dana Sedersten, all second-grade teachers, were enthusiastic about how this quilt unit was so “hands on.” The multi-sensory approach in this multi-topic unit was a “great way for all kids to understand” the concepts. It allowed for greater concept mastery for more students because of the diverse subject coverage and hands-on method. The quilt unit also laid a foundation for much of the math second grade will learn by the end of this school year. So, the common denominator between second-graders, tessellations, colored paper, math and a story about a reluctant tailor is…quilts!



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