This year, I came into a new (to me) program. I was told there were art supplies and there were but I suppose I should have asked what supplies they had and the amounts. What I discovered was that there was a large amount of colored construction paper packages in a limited array of colors and a smattering of other miscellaneous items-glue sticks, scissors, some paint brushes, paint, crayons, items for weaving, pencils, and colored pencils.
Since the initial art supply order would take about 10 days to receive and art started pretty quickly, I needed something I could do with every one of the nearly 1,200 students I would see in the first two weeks. The students range from TK to grade 6 and there are several special day classes as well.
What to do? Well, with limited supplies and just a couple of days to prep, I realized that paper quilt squares would be best. They needed no mark making tools, we had plenty of glue sticks for the first few groups and I have been making paper quilts for many, many years. They are easily adaptable to any age or ability and they look lovely when hung together in community.
While there probably would have been an interest in a whole school collaborative project and I might have done that here, I chose simply to give the squares back to the classroom teachers. I work in 4 different schools and having not visited all of them, did not know if they had a place for a community art project that would be protected from the weather and curious student hands.
I cut about 1300 six inch squares for the base. I cut thousands of additional triangles and small squares and show them how to fold these shapes to make additional shapes.
I told my students we would be doing math in art class and there were many groans. I showed them the following folds. When we cut them apart, we would be doing division and fractions. Patterns are found in math AND science AND art.
I told them the fold line was their cutting line. I drew lines here so you could see the fold lines better.
A triangle when the top point folds down to the bottom line makes a trapezoid:
When you fold the other corners in, you get a rectangle. Many of my students made the real world connection that the folded side looked like an envelope.
The square folded in half makes 2 rectangles. Fold the square into fourths, and you have four smaller squares.
There are lots of ways to fold the paper to get different shapes and I encourage them to try whatever ideas they want to.
I showed my students images of quilts and textile art both historical and contemporary. They looked at work by Martha Ricks, Harriet Powers, The Gees Bend Quilters, Pia Camil, Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, and Joe Cunningham. They looked at patterns like the Log Cabin, Monkey Wrench, and Wagon Wheel.
Each student received the same number of paper shapes plus the base. The only expectation was that they use all the paper pieces and that it fit within the square.
I think they did a terrific job. For the SDC students, they tore the paper and glued the torn pieces on to the base.
Everyone from the youngest TK student to the oldest 6th grader had success.