Waste Not Quilt

Make a Colonial American quilt using old paper scraps.
Click the image to view or print the template and instructions for this craft.


Colonial American women didn’t invent quilts, but they certainly made a lot of them.   Quilts were used on beds to keep family members warm.  They were also used to cover windows and doors during the cold winter months.  Because there were no stores, quilters had to be innovative with their materials.  Old clothes and other textiles (like curtains and bedspreads) were used to make patchwork quilts.  A patchwork quilt was made by stitching small scraps of fabric together to make a large piece of fabric.  The large patched together piece was used as the front of the quilt.  Then padding (possibly an old bedspread) and a backing were added.  Nothing went to waste.  There were no garbage cans in Colonial times.  People used their resources wisely.

When you make this craft with a group of students, you can request that each student bring in a paper product they had planned to throw away or recycle.  Students can sit on the floor in a circle with the paper scraps in the center of the circle.  Each student should have a copy of the quilt grid, a scissors, a ruler, a pencil, and a glue stick. 

After everyone completes their piece of the quilt, you can attach them to a bulletin board to make a large classroom quilt.

There will be students who complain about the amount of wasted paper scraps that weren’t used in the quilt.  To make sure you waste nothing, make handmade paper with the remaining scraps. 

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty Craft

Click the image below to view or print the pattern and instructions for this craft.

Statue of Liberty Craft



THE AGE OF INVENTION (1850 to 1900)


In fourth grade I was introduced to tall tales and legends of the Wild West.  Our teacher shared with us the stories of Pecos Bill and his girlfriend Slue-foot Sue.  She taught us a song about John Henry and his hammer.  And she read us the adventures of Paul Bunyan and his giant blue ox, Babe.   Hearing theses stories was like reading my favorite comic book, “The Fantastic Four.”  Paul could stretch out to great heights and lengths like Reed Richards.  John Henry was super strong like Ben.  And Pecos Bill and Sue were amazing like Johnny and Sue Storm.  I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to be in a classroom where this was a topic of study!


In fifth grade, our music teacher taught us the words to a song about a brave abolitionist named John Brown.  “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave.  His soul is marching on.”  I did not know what abolitionist meant or who John Brown was or why he was molding in a grave.  I just remember we had to stop singing the song because it made the twin brother and sister in my class sob uncontrollably.  Their mother had passed away and any mention of death or graves was too much for them to bear.  I liked singing the song and felt annoyed by their crying.    It wasn’t until years later, when I learned the history of John Brown that the words to the song came flooding back into my brain along with the feeling of embarrassment for my lack of sensitivity to the twin’s immense sadness.


When she was a first grader, there was nothing my daughter wanted more than an American Girl doll, specifically, Samantha.  She wrote a long note to Santa requesting just one gift, the Victorian era doll with beautiful clothes, long dark hair, and brown eyes.   She cited good behavior and good grades as the reason she deserved such an expensive gift.  Santa agreed with her self-assessment.  She got the doll!  She also got an education about the Victorian era.  The doll came with a series of stories about her life in Victorian America.  It was a really clever (and expensive) way to introduce girls to history.

Wild West Town



America Divided - Civil War


#10 Realism & Impressionism are the art styles from this time period.  The realists wanted their art to look like real life.  They painted real people doing real life things.  Their paintings often represented the harsh reality of poverty.  In the past, only rich people appeared in paintings.  The impressionists used dabs of color to give an impression of what they saw.  They were more interested in the scene than the people they were painting.  Before the impressionist movement, the people were always centered in a painting.  The impressionists often painted the people off to the side.

#9  Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a series of newspaper stories about a slave named Tom.  The stories told of the horrors inflicted on enslaved African Americans.  Her articles became a book called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”  It was read by many people and started an anti-slavery movement in the North and widespread anger in the South.

#8 The Underground Railroad was a passage to freedom for some slaves.  It was named “underground” because it was a secret, and “railroad” because it was a way to transport people.  The homes where slaves would hideout were called stations or depots.  The people who helped the slaves escape were called conductors.  Conductors provided temporary shelter and supplies.  The trip was dangerous.  Stations were 10 to 20 miles apart.  Slaves traveled on foot at night from one station to another.   Slaves or conductors who were caught would be severely punished or killed.

#7 The Civil War (The War Between the States) The southern states had grown wealthy from the use of slave labor on their plantations.  The northern states were using machine labor.  As American territory started expanding westward, people began to question whether or not slavery should be permitted in the new states.  The “Missouri Compromise” said each state should decide for themselves.  This created more problems.   In the 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision, it was decided that a slave did not become free when taken to a free state.  The United States needed to be united in their thoughts about slavery.  The North and South went to war to fight for their side of the argument.   The Civil War cost more American lives than any other war in history.  The North won the war.  On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the “Emancipation Proclamation” which freed all slaves.  On November 19th, he gave the “Gettysburg Address” in which he expressed hope that the nation would be freer and more united.

#6 The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments – The 13th Amendment to the constitution ended slavery.  The 14th amendment granted citizenship to all people born in the United States.  The 15th amendment gave African American men the right to vote.

#5  The Wild West was the untamed area west of the Mississippi River.  Outlaws, pioneers, Native Americans, cowboys, prospectors, and gunslingers  were the people of the Wild West.

#4 Tall Tales and Legends – As mentioned above, kids love hearing the exaggerated stories of the heroes of the Wild West.

#3 Immigrants – Ellis Island has welcomed many immigrants.  Unless you are a Native American, everyone has an immigrant ancestor.  Immigrants from European countries were coming to America on large crowded ships.  The voyage took a week or two.  Every ship carrying immigrants passed the Statue of Liberty as it arrived in New York Harbor.  Each ship was carefully inspected for disease before anyone could exit.  Wealthy passengers were the first to exit onto ferry boats.  The boats took them to Ellis Island where the passengers were given a medical exam.  If they passed, they were asked a series of 29 questions about their personal history and intentions in America.

#2 New Inventions –  Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.  Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.  The Singer sewing machine was manufactured for home use.  Early versions of the typewriter, camera, and automobile were also invented.

#1 The Industrial Revolution took place when America became a country dominated by industry and machines.  Before this time, Americans were farmers and handcrafters.  Factories with machines that created goods brought jobs to the cities.  Railroads connected the U.S. from coast to coast.  Trains transported goods and people.

Many poor children (as young as 4)  worked full-time to help support their family.  The hours were long.  The work was dangerous and the pay was super low.   Some kids worked as Breaker Boys—breaking up coal, Matchgirls—dipping wooden sticks into dangerous chemicals to make matches, Chimney Sweeps—cleaning soot out of chimneys, and Newsies—selling newspapers on street corners.


THE STATUE OF LIBERTY is one of the most recognized symbols of America.  Click STATUE OF LIBERTY CRAFT to get the pattern and instructions for the craft.


Click the link to go to the REALISM / IMPRESSIONISM page of my website for FREE activities or to purchase the unit.