The Rag Coat (FIAR)

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I really enjoyed doing The Rag Coat with the boys for school recently. This is a Five in a Row, Volume 1 book.

(Please note: This post contains lessons from the Five in a Row Volume 1 manual, as well as activities added by me.)


The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills is about a little girl named Minna who lives in the Appalachian mountains. Her father works in the coal mines, but he gets sick and passes away. Minna needs a new coat before she can start going to school and so all of the women in the little town they live in get together and make her a “quilt coat” out of rags of scrap fabric.

We started with reading the story and placing our story disk in between Tennessee and North Carolina. I love doing the Appalachia stories because I have a family heritage of that area. I told the boys a story about how my grandfather used to walk from Tennessee to North Carolina to visit my grandmother, before they were married. That is the reason they placed it in between the two states!



We went over the Social Studies lessons on Geography and Appalachian Culture and spent some time looking at library books about that area. For Social Studies we also talked the many different relationships in the story. Minna and her father, the quilting ladies who helped make her coat and the school children. The bottom line was what her father stated in the book, that people need people and we should value other people, no matter who they are.

For Language, we read a similar story that was recommended in the manual called The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy. This book was a little bit long, so I found a quilt coloring page for them to color while I read it to them. It was really easy to find, I just used Google.


Here are some of the other go-along books we used during this study:





For Art, we looked through the story at all of Minna’s facial expressions and how they changed as she went through different situations.

We also learned about Quilts. We looked at one of the library books about different quilt patterns. I have an old quilt that my grandmother made (the one I mentioned earlier) and I got that out to share with them. This quilt was found in her closet after she died along with several others that she had made. The special thing about this quilt is that my grandmother always sewed her own dresses and she used leftover scraps from those dresses to make quilts. So when I look at the quilt, I can remember her wearing the dresses in the same fabric as the scraps the quilt is made of. It’s a little bit like Minna’s quilt coat in the story and the boys were amazed by it!

We spread the quilt out and I told them all about it and about my grandmother. They couldn’t believe how large and heavy it was!





The last thing we did with quilts and fabric was to make our own rag coat. I cut out little pieces of fabric that I had and then I drew the shape of a coat onto a piece of paper and let them glue the fabric on however they wanted. They had fun with that and it was simple and easy to do!







For Science, we learned about Coal since Minna’s father worked in a coal mine. We looked at a library book about coal mining and I read them Boy of the Deeps by Jan Wallace. They really liked that book. Last, I got out samples that I had gotten from the Coal Foundation of America. I went to their website and you can order a set for free. (You only have to pay if you need more than one set.) They send you samples of 4 different kinds of coal. You can try this link to get yours: Teach Coal/American Coal Foundation.




For Bible, we focused on the Forgiveness lesson. Minna’s schoolmates tease her about the coat and she decides to forgive them and get along with them anyway. This was a great lesson for the boys to hear!


So that finished up our time with The Rag Coat. We ended up spending two weeks on this book. Be sure to check back for their next Five in a Row book, Mrs. Katz and Tush soon!


Until next time,








Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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