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webquest on quilt tradition and the underground railroad

Interdisciplinary unit for Art and Language Arts

Grades 6-8

by Elizabeth Goins and Vicki Seed



You were born into slavery. You do not know who your father is; he was sold right after you were born. Your rarely see your mother as she works in the "big House", the personal servant to the wife of your master. You have witnessed the numerous beatings in the slave quarters: your older brother when he was found trying to teach himself to read; your sister because she didn't



Groups will use the resources provided to research slavery and the quest for freedom. You will gather information that will enhance your understanding of slave quilts, their usage and their importance in the Underground Railroad. Each person will write a letter to your family describing your journey. You will design an original 8" x 8" quilt block which assist a slave in their escape. Groups will combine their blocks into a quilt and give an oral presentation explaining their choice of symbols and sharing the stories they told through their letters.





Group work

Member 1


Member 2


Member 3


Member 4




The following rubric will be used to evaluate your letter , quilt block. You will receive a group grade based on research and cooperation. Each quilt block, oral presentation and letter will be part of an individual grade.







Quality and accuracy of work

Very limited research. No information related to the facts Some research and limited application to facts. Mentions information and uses several facts Extensive research; good detail and representation of ideas.

Structure of Ideas

lacks logical sequencing of events. Uses no examples. Describes vague sequence of events. uses two examples. Demonstrates logical sequence of events using four examples. Interprets a logical sequence of events that occurred during the time period researched.
Quilt Square

Original Content

Copied art symbols found in research. No grid provided. Invents only one original symbol. No grid provided. Creates an original design using more than two symbols. Has a grid for explanation. Creates an original design using more than four symbols. Produces a grid for interpretation of the symbols.
Oral presentation Presenter did not use descriptive words from Feldman's art criticism. does not identify the use of symbols on the quilt square. Presenter uses one descriptive word from Feldman's art criticism. Does not explain symbols used on the quilt square. Presenter uses two-three descriptors from Feldman's art criticism. Is vague in explanation of the symbolism in the quilt square. Presenter uses all four descriptors from Feldman's art criticism. Explains in detail the use of symbolism in the quilt square.





As you were doing this project, what elements did you find were necessary for a slave's successful quest for freedom? Would you have had the courage to "ride" on the Underground Railroad?


For Further Study

Hopkinson, Deborah. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.

Meltzer, Milton. Frederick Douglass. In His Own Words.

Ringgold, Faith. Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky.

Sullivan, Charles, ed. Children of Promise. New York: Harry Abrams, 1991.

Teacher Resource Center: The Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore, Maryland


Webquest last updated April 24, 2003