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Stretton Church of England Academy

A quilt made of purple, yellow, pink and blue squares of fabric, with a blue and yellow border. The quilt says peace at the top. Attached to the quilt are felt fabric circles with white embroidery on them.

The children's thoughts

“We had to learn how to make the turtle turn and work out the distance it needed to travel and when to turn to make it finish a shape. It was a bit difficult to know exactly where the turtle would end up and we had to change our pattern to make sure that there were not too many stitches on top of each other. We found it hard to know how big the final shape would be exactly and what the stitches would look like - some of them were thinner than we expected.” 

“We liked using Turtlestitch. It was fun to make the program and then test it to see whether it worked. We liked watching the turtle move round to make the shape. We also liked seeing the final design and seeing how it worked out.” 

“We were inspired by the idea of wheels and machines. We thought about the wheels on cars and bicycles. We also thought about the parts inside a watch.” 

“We learned how to use Turtlestitch to program the shape. We hadn’t done this kind of computing before.” 

“It was exciting learning how to use Turtlestitch. It was tricky to start with, but once we worked out how to make the shapes, it was fun to experiment. We liked seeing our work when it was stitched on the felt.” 

Teachers' reflections

We will be working on a history project on industrialisation in Coventry next term with Year 5 so we took a theme of Coventry’s industrial heritage to inspire our Turtlestitch designs. We asked the children to think about the industries in Coventry – watches, cycles and cars – and the children investigated with design ideas linked to wheels and cogs. The children experimented with rotational and repetitive designs. They were challenged to change the rotation of shapes and work out the angles to design a complete a ‘wheel design’ successfully.  

We wanted to create a quilt of peace in our final design, reflecting its industrial origins in textiles (wool, silk and ribbons) and building on the importance of Coventry as a centre for peace and reconciliation. This idea of peace is especially important to us as a ‘Cross of Nails’ school. We initially wanted to use fabric for patchwork squares that also had industrial/technological images. Our school colour is bright blue and sky blue is also a symbol of Coventry, so we wanted to make extensive use of blue in our design. During the development of the quilt stage of the project, the conflict in Ukraine began and this led us to include yellow and blue as a main part of the quilt pattern, to remind us that peace and reconciliation sadly is still a vital part of today’s world. 

It was great to see the children taking on the challenge of Turtlestitch. They were keen to experiment and were excited by the prospect of seeing their work on a computer turn into something ‘real’. Children were impressed by the technology and liked being able to see how a manufacturing process works. They did need to show resilience to keep going when their ideas didn’t quite work as expected, and they enjoyed the final success. We also saw some fantastic teamwork and several children were inspired to try Turtlestitch for themselves at home and come back to school with even more developed design ideas. 

We found this a really positive opportunity to develop computing skills and be part of something creative. The children were very excited by the idea of creating something real from their work. It has made us think about how we can develop more opportunities for the children to have practical experiences that allow them to use their computing skills (and STEM/STEAM skills more generally) imaginatively and see outcomes.  

The opportunity to use an applied computing skill was inspiring for our children. They used a wide range of skills to develop their work. They enjoyed applying mathematical thinking to a practical activity and were motivated to experiment with programming skills, review and refine their work. Our children learned skills of teamwork, showing resilience and perseverance to achieve success. They learned that the teams worked most effectively when they communicated and discussed ideas clearly and shared their suggestions for improvement. They also saw that co-operating and taking turns produced positive outcomes as everyone improved and could make suggestions to help each other.