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Quilts in the Classroom
PIECES in Language Arts
Visual Symbols:

A symbol is something that stands for something else.  Often it’s an object that stands for an idea.  Signs can be symbols.  When we see a flashing hand at the crosswalk, what does that tell us?  What other symbols can you think of?

Most of the poems in Pieces were written and I had already decided to illustrate them with quilts, when I started asking myself what the title of the book should be.  I asked myself, what do the poems and quilts have in common?  Do you have any ideas? 

It seemed to me that each poem was a little “piece” of nature, a piece of the season of which it was a part.  Each poem wasn’t the whole picture, but just like the “pieces” of fabric sewn together to make a quilt picture, the poems all together give the picture of changing seasons. I decided to call the book Pieces, and wrote the opening poem.

Pieces of the seasons 
appear and disappear
in a patchwork pattern
making up a year.

To illustrate that poem I wanted to make a quilt in which all the seasons were represented, so I needed a visual symbol for each season.  When I decided to use the same idea for the cover I needed two symbols for each season. 
What are the symbols I chose for each season?
What symbolizes each season to you? 

To sew the symbols I had to draw them using only straight lines, and as few lines as possible.  I had to simplify the shapes.
Can you create your own visual symbols for the seasons? 
What other things might you create symbols for? 
Non-Visual symbols:
For the quilts I had to use visual symbols, but there can be other kinds of symbols, too. 
What season do you think of when you hear the pop of a baseball hitting a bat?
What season do you think of when you smell burning leaves?
What other senses might give you clues about the season?
Can you find places in my poems where I have used smells, touch, sounds and movement to help you share my experience?

Choose your favorite season.

What are the smells that make you think of that season?
What are the sounds? 
What could you touch that would make you think of that season? 
How would it feel?
What are the movements or actions of spring? 
What are the sights?
Can you use some of those sensory images to write a poem so someone who reads it will share your experience and know which season you are writing about even if you don’t use the word for it?
What symbolizes you?
Make you own book of poems and “quilts”—all about you!

Suppose you wanted to make a quilt, or a book of quilts, about yourself. 
What symbols might you want to put in your quilt?

 What things are important to you?
 What people and places?
 What do you like to spend your time doing?
 What ideas and values are important to you?
         Things like friendship, honesty, love, trust.
         How could you symbolize those in a quilt?
 What special memories do you have?
 What are your dreams for the future?
You might write a poem about each thing that is important to you, create a visual symbol for each one, and put them together in your own quilt/poetry book, all about you!
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