Southwest Children's Literature

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The Piñata Quilt

In the classroom/library:

SUBJECT: Language and Literacy, Social Studies
OVERVIEW: In this lesson, students will learn about how Mexican families traditionally celebrate children's birthdays and how these celebrations create family memories. They will also learn how quilt making can be a way of recording family stories. Children will learn about these by: talking about the tradition of piñatas, hearing a story orally, engaging with the illustrations in the book, telling a family story through discussion, art, and dictated narration.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this lesson is to allow students to use their prior knowledge and newly acquired knowledge to synthesize the information to retell with their own ideas.

At the end of this lesson, children will be able to:
1. Illustrate a quilt square to tell about a family story
2. Dictate their story to adults.

Standards: Taken from the Arizona Early Learning Standards

Language and Literacy Standard
Concept 1: Written Expression
The child uses writing materials to communicate ideas.
b. Dictates thoughts, ideas, and stories to adults.
* Link vocabulary to first hand experiences with pictures, concrete objects, and real life events. (ELL Vocabulary Development)
Social Studies Standard
Concept 2: Family Identity/Human Systems
c. Child describes/discusses own family's cultural or family traditions.
* Affirm the children's culture and language through activities and resources that are culturally and linguistically relevant. (ELL Learning Environment)
* Use books with clear illustrations that help tell the story. (ELL Book Use)

1. Quilts
2. The Piñata Quilt by Jane Tenorio-Coscarelli
3. Camera - to photograph students working on their individual squares and to capture an image of the finished quilt
4. Small piñata

1. 8 x 8 construction paper matting squares
2. 6 x 6 tag board quilt squares
3. yarn: complimentary color
4. hole punch
5. rubber cement
6. dictation strips - must fit on the 2" board created after mounting quilt squares on the matting squares
7. crayons, markers, colored pencils, and other drawing utensils
8. Film for camera, if needed

1. Introductory Set

* Show at least one quilt to the children and tell the story of the quilt. It is especially appropriate to use one that is connected to a family story. Also, connect the quilt to other personal memories of the people involved; "When I look at this quilt it makes me think of…"
* If possible, show several quilts, repeating the storytelling and connection processes mentioned above. It is nice to have both hand-stitched and machine-stitched quilts.
* Ask the children: Can you see any differences in them? What is the same about them? Does your family make or use quilts?
* After the children have a chance to respond tell them you have a book to read to them. Invite them to sit on a quilt while you read it.

2. Objectives
At the end of this lesson, children will be able to:
1. Illustrate a quilt square to tell about a family story
2. Dictate their story to adults.

3. Input
a. After the children have been seated on the quilts, show them the book, The Piñata Quilt.
b. Have them look at the cover and discuss what they think the book is about.
c. Ask the children to think about the title of the book and ask if it gives them any ideas about what the book may be about. Show them the piñata and lead a discussion about piñatas and their traditional use in the Mexican culture (birthdays, posadas, the day of your saint: for those children that share a name with a saint, school celebrations).
d. Once the children have had the opportunity to respond, talk about the author and illustrator.
e. If children do not mention the quilt in the background, ask them to predict what the boy is standing in front of.
f. Read the story.
g. After reading the book, ask the children to think about one special time with their families. Encourage them to share their story with the group.
h. Explain that each child will be making a quilt square by illustrating their family story using crayons, markers, oil pastels, charcoal pencils, etc.
i. Tell them that they will dictate the story for the teacher to write down.
j. Tell the children that after all the quilt squares are made, they will be mounted and sewn together to make a big classroom quilt.
k. Tell the children a little about the matting process.

Teacher note - quilt assembly instructions:
1. Take each finished quilt square and glue it in the center of a framing mat.
2. Type the children's dictated stories on individual strips of paper.
3. Mount each child's typed story on the framing mat just below their quilt square.
4. Using a hole punch, make holes on each side of each framing mat about 1" apart.
5. Use yarn to sew the frames together into a large quilt.

Show the children your illustrated quilt square and read your dictated story aloud. Point out the matting and the typed dictation strip, and show the correlation between the illustration you drew and the typed family story.

5. Check for understanding
Once seated at the art table, ask the children, "What do you need to draw your family story?" Listen for: quilt square and something to draw with (crayon, marker, etc). Then ask the children, "After you're done drawing your family story, what will you do next?" Listen for something like; tell my story to the teacher.

6. Guided Practice
Circulate among the children, watching for children who may need assistance. Occasionally ask if anyone is ready to dictate their story.

7. Independent Practice - or Homework
Students will have available materials to make additional quilt squares during activity time. If they do, they will be asked to choose one for the classroom quilt.

8. Closure
In small groups, the children will show their quilt squares. Invite them to share their story with each other. Lead them to note (or point out) the differences and similarities in their experiences and cultural traditions. Also, include in their conversation how they are similar or different to those of Alberto's family. After it is completed, display the completed quilt in classroom and have children retell their story if they wish.
Bridge: Let the children know that they can create/tell their own stories and draw a picture that depicts their story, thus becoming the author and illustrator.

As you take the dictation, assess the content to verify that the child's story and the drawing depict a family story.

Extensions and Modification
Extensions: Children will have the opportunity to create a short family/pet book in the writing area-linking this to the author and illustrator idea.

The teacher will offer individualized support to students with language or special needs. The teacher can extend this into activity time if needed.

During activity time, teachers can also read: Hooray, A Piñata! by Elisa Kleven or Abuela by Arthur Dorros to further the conversations about the Mexican culture.

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