How to Make an Ablative Absolute Quilt

Posted on March 28, 2013 by



The inspirational first and final quilt square.

Today I woke up and (as happens all-too-often) realized that I really had no realistic plan for teaching my Latin II class. I was bored with the normal day-to-day activities that we all do as standby, and wanted to do something a little different.

As I stood looking around my room, willing my desks and chairs to give me an idea, that ever-elusive muse of teaching touched me and I knew what I was going to do with my students—we were going to make a quilt! A paper quilt, clare, because I don’t have the money for fabric or the time to sew it together.

The inspiration is partially due to the fact that I really wanted something that would help students to clarify the ablative absolute for themselves, in a very simple way because the topic was just introduced to them yesterday. I also didn’t want an activity that would take the entire period because we also needed to do some reading. And I like to incorporate artwork into as many activities as possible. This turned out perfectly suited.


Final touches.

The first thing I did was to arrange my tables into groups of four. I let students self-select groups, but I don’t like wrestling with them when they want to argue against the number I’ve chosen (“can’t we have five?”). My simple fix is to arrange the tables so that when they sit down, they’ve got their groups.

I introduced the topic by showing them my anchor “quilt square”: a piece of copy paper with my independent clause on it and a picture. I explained that each group was expected to create its own beautifully-illustrated (yes, stick figures are beautiful) quilt square with an original ablative absolute clearly written on it.  Students got to work, asked me questions, clarified the grammatical concept, and seemed to enjoy themselves too.

When all the students had finished their squares and were working on a different assignment, I glued their ablative absolutes (and corner pieces, to make it feel more quilt-like) to a large piece of bulletin-board paper.  After all is said and done, I now have a lovely paper quilt, with sixteen ablative absolutes, all of which modify the simple clause “puer in lecto dormiebat.”

The last thing we did, once the quilt was assembled, was to read our very long and imaginative sentence.  So my students heard sixteen new ablative absolute phrases after writing one of their own.

This could be used for any level of Latin, for any grammatical structure.  Have fun!


The completed quilt! I really like the way it turned out.

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