Well, the season is upon us when we all start to think about the holidays ahead. The holidays are special, of course, because of the people we share our lives with, the traditions that we honor and the events that take place in each of our homes. This might be a fun time of year to think about creating home "story quilts" with students.
I begin this project by sharing a book titled Home with my students. Author, Jeannie Baker, is an artist and her collage depiction of a families' special place as it transforms over time, is beautifully accomplished without text.
Next, I get my students thinking and talking about "home" and what that means to them. Home can be about a physical place or the people and traditions that make a physical place important. Home can be about a place that is not the one we live in, but one which makes us feel safe, comforted and "at home" (i.e. a friend's or relative's home, a school, or a regularly visited travel destination). Home can be about one special event, or little events that recur many times to become important in our minds. Students can even create an imaginary place that holds for them all the things that bring them comfort. We know how diverse the home lives of students can be, so keeping the possibilities wide open is really important.
Once the students have had an opportunity to generate lots of ideas, they begin to create felt collages to visually tell their "stories" of home. The stories are rich and complex, and the story quilts are relatively simple due to the limitations of the materials. For this reason, I have my students write about their stories for me as well. I am often "blown-away" by the stories that come through in this project. The stories are powerful in some cases and give me completely new insight into the lives of my students. This is one of my favorite projects!