Faith Ringgold Story Quilts (3rd)

Lesson idea from Art. Paper. Scissors.  Glue!
3rd graders started a conversation about what textile arts are by reading the book "Tar Beach" by author and artist Faith Ringgold. We talked about how the book and its illustrations were actually inspired by a story quilt that Ringgold created (the original work is pictured in the back of the book I had).
The story in the book brought up the themes of both inequality (which works well since February is Black History Month) and imagination. The book's main character 3rd grader Cassie Louise Lightfoot discovers she has the ability to fly and in doing so, finds a sense of power and ownership over whatever she flies. She flies over the George Washington Bridge (a structure her father helped to build), an ice cream factory, and the Union Building (a building which housed an organization her father was not allowed to join because of his skin color).
After reading and discussing the themes in the book, I asked my 3rd graders "Where would you go if you could fly (real or imaginary) and why?" This question was the inspiration for our very own patches on our 3rd grade story quilt. Students created their own "story patches" by creating a border using squares of 1.5"x1.5" decorative paper along the edge of a 12" x 12" piece of white drawing paper. Students then attached a strip of grey paper to the bottom of their picture squares and wrote about where they would go and why. Then in the remaining space, they used colored pencils to illustrate their ideas.

I got a huge range of responses from Candyland (naturally to eat a ton of candy), to Columbia (to visit friends and family), to the Twin Towers in New York City (which prompted an entirely difference conversation). Students really enjoyed working on this project (which took between 4-5 class periods -- including one day for sketching ideas). I really love the finished product - and even more so when they are all hung together to make a giant story quilt! :)


  1. LOVE these! I have a similar lesson planned for this semester's Modern Art class of home school students I teach and I'm pinning your lesson to cross reference. I love the idea of displaying the pieces as a big quilt--the result it beautiful. I was struggling to figure out what the children should illustrate in the center (I didn't want to spend an entire class writing something to then illustrate it for a couple more classes). Your "if you could fly..." prompt is just perfect. Thank you for sharing! Mrs. P @

  2. We did this ad they came out great!
    Thanks again for posting! Mrs. P