Learning About Storytelling and Quilting From an American Icon

Burke’s second graders embarked on a paper quilt project inspired by Faith Ringgold's 1988 story quilt, Tar Beach this fall.

Faith Ringgold is an artist, activist, author, American icon, and university professor, recently turning 92. Tar Beach is also the title of her first children’s book, inspired by the story quilt of the same name, in which Ringgold tells the story about a young girl using her imagination to enrich and change her world. The Burke’s library collection holds a variety of children’s books by Ringgold, including What the Artist Saw, We Came to America, and Faith Ringgold: Portraits of Women Artists for Children. 
Second graders were introduced to Ringgold’s work by reading Tar Beach, and used it to explore concepts of a safe space and daydreaming. In art, students learned about her life experiences, including her activism and the unique ways that she represented her heritage and community through her story quilts. 
Students transferred the ideas they developed in the library to the creation of individual paper paintings that reflected their own safe spaces. They observed the colorful fabric pieces surrounding the famous Tar Beach story quilt and designed a similar border for their quilts using paper squares with unique designs. They then painted a watercolor scene representing a safe place where they like to daydream and glued it in the middle of their squares. The words students used to describe their safe spaces were incorporated into stories surrounding their quilts.  
As a part of this interdisciplinary project, second graders also took a field trip to the de Young museum to view the retrospective Faith Ringgold: American People.
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.


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7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
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