A Leadership Quilt

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Subjects Image: 
Grades: K - 2nd Grade
Lesson: 1
Unit: 4: Building a positive future in Indian communities
Subject: History/Social Studies
Additional Subject: Arts
Achievement Goal: Build a pictorial chart of the leaders in school, family and community and discuss how those people help and lead others.
Time: One class period
Lesson Resources:

Lesson Description:

Students discuss the characteristics of leaders and then construct a quilt showing community leaders.

Teacher Background:

American Indian cultures are often characterized by extended family relationships in which many people are considered one’s relatives. This large network of relatives provides support, security and role models to look up to. Leaders are involved in a life-long search for knowledge, spiritual balance and development of the characteristics and skills needed to contribute to and strengthen one’s community. Community leadership is exemplified by those who seek to contribute to the well-being of their people, actively protect community resources, and protect the natural environment. By designing and building a quilt, the students will come to understand the qualities of family and community leaders and how they fit together to build a secure community.

Teacher Preparation Resources:
  • Review the items listed in the Lesson Resources section and obtain one or more of these books for use during the lesson.
  • Gather the following needed materials: Three colors of construction paper (or white muslin if you wish to sew the quilt together) and permanent markers (or fabric pens if you are working with muslin).
  • Cut the construction paper or muslin into squares for a quilt. Consider the pattern and colors to be used. If you are using muslin, you may consider dying three different colors.
Student Activity:
  1. Read the book, Crazy Horse’s Vision (or another book or story that describes the characteristics of leaders) to the students.
  2. Using the book as an example, discuss leadership with the students. Have the students name some leaders they know of. Encourage the students to name leaders in their families and community and talk about what makes them leaders. At younger ages, the teacher may need to help by suggesting leaders. An example would be the school principal, a doctor, tribal council member, grandmother, coach or teacher.
  3. Discuss the fact that a community requires many different types of leaders in order to make it a good place to live.
  4. Have the students think about and choose one leader they admire. The leader can be from:
    • Their family
    • Their community
    • The school
  5. Give each student a different colored quilt square. Distribute one color for those who have chosen family leaders, another color for community leaders and the third color for school leaders.
  6. Have the students illustrate something about their chosen leader. It may be a portrait or something that shows what has been accomplished by their leader.
  7. Glue or stitch the quilt squares together into an attractive quilt. When ready, discuss leadership again with the students. Using the quilt as an example, show them how many leaders are required within a community. The leaders work together and their skills and contributions fit together to provide community security and support, much like a quilt provides security and warmth for a person.
  1. Listen as the students talk about their leaders. See how many students can name a leader. Determine if they understand what qualities a leader should have.
  2. After the quilt is complete, ask the students about their leaders to determine if they have a broader understanding than when the leadership lesson started.
Lesson Resources:
  • Bruchac, Joseph. Crazy Horse’s Vision. New York: Lee and Low Books, 2000.
  • Jumbo, Sheyenne and Mindy Willett. Come and Learn With Me: Ewo, seh Kedjdjh. Markham, ON: Fifth House Publishers, 2009.
  • Smith, Patricia Clark. Weetamoo: Heart of the Pocassets, New York: Scholastic Press, 2011.
  • Turner, Ann. Sitting Bull Remembers. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.
  • Willett, Mindy. At the Heart of It: Dene dzó t’áré. Markham, ON: Fifth House Publishers, 2011.
  • Willett, Mindy, Therese Zoe and Philip Zoe. Living Stories: Godi Weghaa Ets'eeda. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2009.

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