Quilt Block Introduction Activity | Family and Consumer Sciences Back to School

quilt block logan introduction game ice breaker activity fcsI teach all Health and FCS classes in our small 7-12 school so it is very likely a student has had me before, sometimes in the same day. To keep things interesting for them (and, let’s be honest, myself) I like to switch up our first-day introduction activities.

One of the highlights of FCS 8 is sewing, so a quilt block seems like an appropriate introduction. I bring in a t-shirt quilt that I made in high school and talk about how quilts can tell a story. Then I share that they will be making a quilt block to tell a story about themselves.

I show students where the supplies are around the room and instruct them to cut their manilla poster paper into a square. Beware, this could take longer than you think. Let them struggle a bit before helping. Using a ruler to get a straight edge is an important sewing skill.

Then I talk the students through the activity. Remind them they will have a chance to explain their block so there is not really a right or wrong way to do it.

  1. Make a vertical line for each person in your family. They may define “family” however they want. Students like to get very technical here but are probably probing to be heard. Hear and acknowledge, then tell them to include who they want.
    1. “Miscarriage is hard. Include who you want.”
    2. “Wow! That sounds like a full house! Include who you want.”
    3. “Love makes a family. Include who you want.”
  2. Make a horizontal line for each pet. Some kids don’t have pets, some want a line for every pet they have ever had, and another wants to include their whole dairy herd.
  3. Make a diagonal line for each school activity that you are in or want to be in this year.
  4. Color the different squares.
  5. “Quilt” the quilt. Talk about different techniques. I show students “stitch in the ditch” by drawing a dashed line over the pencil lines.
  6. “Embroider” or “Applique” your name somewhere on the quilt.

Students introduce themselves by sharing a fact about themselves for each color used to decorate their quilt block. The blocks make a great bold decoration for the classroom.

quilt blocks into ice breaker


Ten Ways To Save On Foods Labs | Family and Consumer Sciences/Home Economics

save money on groceries foods labs family and consumer sciences teachers

I’ve always been a pretty frugal person which has served me well as a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher. Food prices have been rising much faster than my budget allotment. Here are some tips for how I’ve been able to keep up.

Portion size

Cut portions down as small as possible for students to still achieve the objective. My mini angel food cakes are my favorite example of this.

Skip demonstrating

I don’t demonstrate my soft yeast dough pretzels. Instead, students make their recipe as they watch the episode Good Eats: Pretzels Logic.

Or, only demonstrate

I used to have each kitchen make their own batch of yeast dinner roll dough. Now I only demonstrate the dough and each student gets to form their own roll. Students really take their one roll seriously. I used to end up with a lot of waste.


Freeze anything that won’t get used it a week from applesauce to bacon to yogurt to pumpkin.

Stock up on sales

If you are picking up groceries and notice a sale, stock up on as much as you can use before it would go bad or as much as you need for the year if it is freezable.

Stock up seasonally

Buy canned pumpkin (and most baking ingredients) at Thanksgiving. Baking ingredients are cheap again at Easter time.

Consider seasonal labs

Students who take Culinary Essentials in the fall learn knife skills by making salsa with free garden produce. Students who take it over the winter learn knife skills with a root vegetable soup.

Do. Not. Share. Disposable. Products.

I do not buy paper plates, plastic utensils, plastic bags, or anything of the like for my students. At the beginning of the term I recommend that my students keep a gallon size freezer bag in their folder in case they have leftovers to bring home. No container, no leftovers.

Eliminate disposables for yourself too

Right now my students have muffins sitting on the counter in their stock pots. It’s a little weird but it works! At my last school I had some room in my Perkins funding to get these beautiful Cambro squares. (sigh!) They held everything, were freezer safe, and if you flipped them upside down they were big enough to be a cake take! I know from my time in catering that they take all sorts of abuse and can save your department in the long run.

Dry Milk

Dry milk does not offer much cost savings over liquid but I am able to mix it as I need it so there is never any waste. I would purchase liquid milk for dairy-specific labs but it’s not necessary for a cup here or there in quick breads, for example.

How do you keep your foods budget balanced? Share your tips in the comments below!