Quilt Time with Kids at The Shelter
I headed for the shelter today, knowing the kids would be off school for MLK Day. One mom was so eager to have a distraction for her kids, she grabbed the broom and swept the floor before I laid out the quilt.
I gathered the small group on the quilt and right away the kids began telling me what they knew about Dr. King. One young boy seemed surprised to see the book, picturing Dr. King as a boy. The young boy on the quilt looked very much like young Martin, on his bike.
I used a story to get the kids thinking about the dreams that Dr. King hoped for. In the story, I told about a Dream Quilt, that was larger than a football field.
It was pieced together like a puzzle, with fabrics of all kinds, cut in every shape imaginable. The kids shouted out shapes from hexagons to hearts. They named fabrics like silk and cotton and golden cloth! They called out all their favorite colors.
People in the Story
The story continued with the help of the kids, imagining all the people who came to the magical Dream Quilt. They described the unusual kinds of clothing and hats the people in the story might wear.
One boy mentioned a Sikh turban, which shouldn't have surprised me. The group of children was about as diverse as the people in the story. They had been delivered to my quilt by their mothers... one who spoke Mandarin to her son...another who wore a sari and another who wore a hijab. These children had lots to teach me.
The kids helped steer the story, which ended with the people coming together on the quilt and learning to get along, despite their differences. The school age children got it. They helped make up words to a Dream Quilt song.
The kids added their own dreams or wishes for what would make the world a better place. Corny? Not when you're 7 or 10. These children had some pretty magical descriptions of the perfect world where people work and play together. (Evidently dinosaurs would make the world even more perfect)
I gave the kids their own Dream Quilt sheets to design. One little boy didn't want to make one, but he gave me a lot of good words to write in the shapes. Equality, Friendship, Peace. And the young ones, just enjoyed drawing the things they love. Who doesn't love a Pretty Pony?
Living at the shelter has already given these children an understanding of what it means to "get along with others". We talked about how different we all are and how that's a good thing.
We also talked about how sometimes we don't like to feel different. I popped the scarf off my head and revealed my short hair. "Sometimes I'm embarrassed because I look different, since I don't have much hair." The kids gasped and then grinned. "Your hair looks awesome!" Said one little boy"Yeah, it looks good!" Another boy added, "If you didn't have those earrings on your ears, you'd look just like a man!" He said it with such enthusiasm, all I could do was grin!
What Did I Learn?
It was nice to hear these kids talking about Martin Luther King. It's obvious the kids have had discussions at school or maybe with their relatives.
It was encouraging to see these children, from different backgrounds, talking and sharing. "Getting along" is not always easy in a temporary shelter, but this was one of the brightest and most cooperative groups I've dealt with over the years. It's nice to know these children will be adults someday. We need them!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.