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The African American Experience: A Research Quilt

Brief Description

This activity introduces students to the research process as they investigate the contributions of African American leaders of the 1900s. Each student constructs a quilt square highlighting the achievements of an individual. The class shares the finished quilt with the community.



  • learn about the research process
  • investigate the contributions of key African American leaders in the 1900s
  • construct a quilt highlighting the achievements of the leaders
  • share the quilt with the community.

Key Concepts

research, African American, black history, community, quilt

Materials Needed



  • copies of the Research Template
  • computers with Internet access or library resources about African American leaders
  • index cards
  • copies of the Research Quilt Rubric
  • one 12-inch-square piece of fabric per student
  • materials students can use to create their quilt squares (felt, fabric paint, markers, etc.)

Lesson Plan


  • As a class, brainstorm the names of influential and noteworthy African American leaders of the 20th century. Encourage students to share the achievements or accomplishments of each individual. From this list, each student should select one person to research.
  • Distribute a copy of the Research Template to each student. Tell students to use library or Internet sources to research their selected leader. (The Research Template will guide students through this process.) Demonstrate how to record significant pieces of information on index cards and to cite sources. Provide some instruction about how much and what type of information should go on each card. (The students will not actually write a paper, but this is a great opportunity to introduce them to this process).
  • When each student completes the research for the chosen leader, he or she can choose the information to depict on a quilt square. Ask the student to choose at least three facts about the leader. Encourage the student to think creatively about depicting ideas related to that person. For example, a square about Rosa Parks could include a bus, sewing items, and a protestor's sign.
  • Distribute and discuss the Research Quilt Rubric.
  • Provide the materials for students to make their quilt squares. Tell students they must leave a 1-inch border around the edges to sew the pieces together. Allow students two to three days to construct their quilt squares.
  • On the fifth day, have students sit together and assemble the quilt. This may take more than one day, and you may wish to invite students' families to help stitch the quilt together.
  • On the sixth day, invite parents, grandparents, administrators, and community leaders into the classroom. Allow each student to highlight his or her quilt square and to share something learned from the research. Display the quilt in the school.

Extension: Help students develop a trivia game using the facts students learned about the leaders. Students can play the game with the guests invited to view the quilt.

Activity Time



Evaluate and grade each student's completed Research Template. Give the equivalent of a test grade for a completed quilt square. (See each student's Research Quilt Rubric.) Give a participation grade for quilt assembly.


Lesson Plan Source


Kimberly Emanuel, ([email protected]) Union Grove Middle School, McDonough, Georgia

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