We all have our favorites: you know the ones: those picture books that are so heart-rendingly beautiful that you almost have to read it with a tissue tucked into a hand because you know you're going to cry at that one page.
"Guess How Much I love You" by Sam McBratney...
"Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch...
"Knuffle Bunny Free" by Mo Willems...
Did I hit one of your favorites there?
Well, I want to introduce you to another tear-jerker children's book that has an incredible message, unforgettable pictures and...I ugly-cried through the entire last half of it the first (and maybe second) time I read it.
"The Quilt-maker's Gift" by Jeff Brumbeau.
I stumbled upon this book when I was trying to find "Q" books to read to my oldest when we were going through Letter of the Week curriculum. And I fell in love with it.
And now it is one of our family classics, and one of my son's favorite children's books. So, what's the story about?
The story introduces us to a mysterious Quilt-maker who lives on a mountain top and makes incredibly beautiful quilts. So lovely are the quilts that many come from far and near to buy them but she will not sell one. Rather, she slips into the city at night and finds the poor and homeless and wraps them up in one of her lovely quilts.
Finally, the wealthy king hears about the Quilt-maker and is offended that she has never given him one of her priceless quilts so although he has almost everything already, he comes with a thousand soldiers to take one for himself. The Quilt-maker announces she will only give him a quilt if he gives away everything he owns. Angered, the King attempts to take a quilt anyway, but magically, it whisks out of the window and away.
The King attempts to punish the Quilt-maker, yet every time he feels remorse and goes to intervene, only to find each time that she has already been saved through her own kindnesses to others.
Finally, the king agrees to give everything he owns away, for the sake of a quilt, and this is where I usually start bawling my eyes out. But why don't you just listen in for yourself to this read aloud of the Quilt-maker's Gift:
Now, having fallen in love with this story, I wanted to create some sort of literacy activity for my children to do. We know that quilt-making can be an incredible classroom project, for one thing. Just take a peek at this lovely group of ideas on a blog from Rainbows within Reach.
But I also decided to create a few activities for kids to do individually at literacy centers or for young home-schooled children to do, after reading the story.
First, I read up on easy quilt patterns and found one called "The Friendship Star".
Children choose two colors to fill in their patterns with, and then simply color in the quilt pieces.
The end result is a beautiful example of how simple geometric shapes that are repeated over and over can create the beautiful finished quilt design.
Our craft project involves creating a paper quilt from a printout and it is a simple cut and paste project. The fabric swatch images are reproductions of material designs from the 1800's when quilts were having their hey-day, but you can also print them out as black and white images for children to color themselves in brighter cheery colors.
We also tried this craft, by using actual fabric swatches that we mod-podged (Elmer's glue would work fine, too) to the paper.
This was another great way to recreate a quilt, but I would recommend cutting the fabric swatches ahead of time in advance and not attempting to have children do the cutting. Fabric can be so... squirrely... to cut!
You can check out our Reading Literacy activity for The Quiltmaker's Gift in our store, or look over our preview for the packet, in more detail right here:
"The Quiltmaker's Gift" is such a beautiful story of generosity and kindness, that there are many additional ideas that could be implemented for students to practice giving on their own.
What are some ideas that you could see yourself doing in a classroom setting or one on one? I'd love for you to share additional ideas in the comments below!