My 4th and 5th grade students created a freedom quilt square for their class quilts last year during Black History Month. We started out the project by reading The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom by Bettye Stroud, a powerful story of a girl and her father escaping slavery to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The designs on the freedom quilts were said to have secret messages, helping to guide and protect the slaves on their way to freedom. I gave each student a printout with some of the designs and their meanings and they chose their favorite to recreate as a paper collage. We discovered that the designs were very precise, using mostly squares and triangles that had to be laid out just right. It was a good way for the students to incorporate some of their math skills into the art room.
After they completed their quilt squares, each student wrote a poem or short descriptive story imagining what it would be like escaping to freedom. I wish I would have made some copies because some students truly had some thoughtful, beautiful words to share.