The "Blankets for Babies" Project 

A Project by Second- and Third-Grade Students at Marquette School, Machesney Park, Illinois

Length of project: 6-8 weeks
Teachers:  Pat Bainter, Julie Fogarty

Phase One—Beginning the Project

We became involved with a community program called Learn and Serve. The Learn and Serve program is a way of incorporating our curriculum with service to the community. Our students' interest in babies led us to making quilts for newborns. Our goals for the students were to learn the process of quilt-making and to begin to understand the value of contributing to community needs. Another goal was for the students to realize that citizenship comes with responsibilities. The project was a collaborative effort of second- and third-grade students.

Phase Two—Developing the Project

The project began with a visit from a newborn and a story. Field visits included our junior high home economics class, where students worked with junior high students to sew quilts. We also visited a new mother's room and the nursery at a local hospital. There was extensive community involvement through students going out into the community and members of the community coming into the school. Experts included new mothers, master quilters, woodworkers, and hospital personnel. Children represented their learning through drawings, fabric cutting, journal entries, reflection questions, sewing, book making, and toy making.

Phase Three—Concluding the Project

Our culminating event was presenting the finished quilts, books, and toys to the hospital personnel. It was a formal presentation with students, parents, teachers, hospital personnel, and representatives of the media. The students learned the process of making quilts, toys, and books. They developed decision-making skills and time management skills. They learned the value of giving to their community without expecting something in return. It was a joy to see the pleasure the students received when they saw pictures of newborn babies and their families receiving their gifts.

Comments

This was our first project. Our most valuable insight was the importance of the pre-visit. We were able to stay within the structure of our time frame; however, we had to cut our original project idea in half. The drawback to this project was that the students were unable to actually present or see their gifts being given to newborns and their families. The children were only able to see this step in photographs. Overall, we enjoyed the project and felt it was valuable.

children making quiltsdrawing of a sewing machine Finished quilt

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