Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Underground Railroad Quilt Code Craft

Awhile back the kids worked on a wallpaper quilt pattern that had meaning for, The Underground Railroad. Certain quilts would be hung out to dry that would convey messages to the slaves. A certain pattern would communicate an important message to the slaves. It might tell them if it was safe to run. Or it could tell someone to get ready for your journey. The owners of the slaves just thought they were doing common household duties. You can find out about the patterns and their meanings at this web site.

What you need is:

Construction Paper
Glue Stick
Scissors 
Wallpaper (different patterns) You can even use construction paper or fabric scraps.

Pre-cut  shapes to make it easier for the kids to choose a design

If you call your local wallpaper store ask them if they have any of their wallpaper pattern books for sale. I picked up a few books for $1 or $2 for each book. Act fast when the have them available. As I found out school teachers are always on the look out for them. The last part of summer or the beginning of the school year are not good times to search. This particular store had a call list to call me when they became available and it was a long list. The books are useful for many future crafts. 

 Little Man choose the Crossroads for his quilt. Which the code for this design meant: Common code for directions to go to Cleveland Ohio
 Bug choose the Stars: Which meant instructions to follow a predetermined constellation.  Told them to navigate using the stars.

It was a fun and meaningful craft for the kids. I printed out the paper on the quilt codes and we talked about each one. I am just amazed at such a simple system would communicate volumes of information to the slaves or for those who are preparing to run. I mean someone who had a job in their masters house might know when the owner is leaving town in a few days and give a message to those who are planning on running. Just amazing. Many blessings

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