When you're preparing big meals for any occasion, it’s always wonderful to involve your child in any way you can. Looking to spruce up your table? Here’s a placemat your second grader can make, based on the classic frontier tradition of quiltmaking. Some second graders may be able to handle a needle and thread and a sewing machine, but if yours isn't quite up to it, don't worry. This project allows him to create a patchwork piece out of paper, no pins and needles required! To make the piece, he’ll need to practice good math skills of measurement and calculation. This activity also allows your child extra practice in combining geometric shapes, a skill which will continue to help him throughout each grade to come.
What You Need:
- Several sheets of heavy art paper in solid colors
- Ruler, pencil
- Sheet of plain construction paper, 12”x18”
- Glue stick
- Placement pattern (see image)
What You Do:
- Ask your child to use pencil and ruler to measure out shapes, as shown on the pattern, onto the sheets of heavy art paper. Invite your child to pick a color scheme, just as our ancestors did when they made their own quilts.
- This pattern is based on a combination of two classic prairie patterns that our ancestors might well have used on their tables at Thanksgiving time: in the center, the “Ohio Star,” and on each side, a row of triangles known as the “flying geese” pattern. Urge your child to look carefully and he’ll see what these early crafters saw: the geometric patterns were based on common sights in their daily lives
- As early quilters understood, every patchwork pattern offers myriad choices for color and design. The Amish, some of the finest quilters in America, used only pure, solid colors. This project is based on their work. Your child will pick the colors he likes for it, in order to add his own personal touch.
- Have your child use the ruler to trace out template pieces, following our pattern. Spread the construction paper on a flat table surface, and glue the quilt templates onto it, edge to edge. Beware: this can be tricky for second graders; it requires them to cut straight and to arrange all of the pieces carefully. Be patient!
- When your child is done, he'll have a lovely, small patchwork placemat. Take it to a copy store and get it laminated, and you and your family can enjoy it for years to come!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.