Art activity – patchwork quilt

Image from

I asked the children in the expressive arts group to create an image that resembled a patchwork quilt.

Purpose: The purpose of the exercise was to make a connection between the warmth and comfort of a quilt and the people and things they find comforting. Many of the children in the group don’t have a wide network of people they can rely on, so it was important to include many examples for them of things they may find comforting. I showed them some pictures of patchwork quilts, as most children have not seen one before.

Materials: A3 paper, paint, oil pastels, water soluble oil pastels, chalky pastels, chalk, textas, pencils, crayons, collage materials. You could also provide squares of plain fabric.

Technique: Divide the page into squares or blocks. Put a border around each square just like a patchwork quilt.

Prompt: Who are the people that provide you with love, nurture, or comfort? The people that make you feel good about yourself. What things provide you with comfort? It might be a pet, a toy, a hobby, a physical activity, or a place. Place each of the people or things in one block. You can use any patterns, colours, shapes, or images that you like.


This post has been transferred from another blog, and backdated to its original posting date. I’m sorting through all of my blogs and putting things where they belong. Below are the comments that this post attracted on the other blog…

phrogmom Says:
January 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm   sounds really interesting, did you get good results?


hakea Says:
January 20, 2011 at 11:52 pm   hi phrogmom, most of the children were able to complete the activity to their own expressive arts i’m not looking for the aesthetic, and i encourage the children not to be concerned with aesthetics as it gets in the way of being able to truly express what they need to. this is art which will not be seen by anybody else, the process is the only thing that matters.

the activity is not compulsory, and the kids can make any marks they like in response to the prompt. some will do a quick scribble and say they are finished. some will spend over an hour on their work. some will work alone. some will work with others. the dynamics are very interesting.

sometimes kids will say that they have made a mistake, and i will respond that there is no such thing as a mistake in expressive arts, every mark has meaning. they are, of course, allowed to start again, but we always keep the ‘mistake’.

thanks for asking.


blaxter Says:
March 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm   Great activity – nice change to the usual! I shall use this one day when appropriate.I agree about the need for kids to accept their own creative work without judgement. Was having just this sort of discussion in groupwork yesterday when one wanted me to “do one” for her and another wanted a rubber and another said it was going all wrong etc etc – in the end they all managed and were so pleased with their work and didn’t compare it to others and shared with the group what they’d done afterwards – and this was free drawing time not an assigned task! I too kept the “mistakes”.So much therapeutic benefit comes from even the process of doing this kind of activity, and the discussion that goes with it, from them and us.


hakea Says:
March 3, 2011 at 6:50 am   hi blaxter, Thanks for dropping in and making a comment.Many of the kids in the group have been coming for about two years. According to them, they love it. From my observations, it’s not the art that they enjoy so much, it’s the freedom from expectation and the opportunity to express themselves without judgement. Acceptance, no matter what the story they are arting/playing out (I also offer some play in the group).

I hear many of the long-stayers telling the newer kids things that I have told them – “there’s no such thing as a mistake in art”, “it’s not important what I think of your art, how do you feel about it?”.

I have to say that I do feel a sense of pride with how this group is set-up and how it evolves with the needs of the children.


About Narelle Smith

Child & Family Worker

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