Quilt Square Math
Make math connections colorful, fun, and inviting to students with a unique unit on the geometry of quilting
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
What better way to bring your math lessons to life than with a hands-on quilting unit? Before you begin, gather together books and photographs on quilts, or find a few real quilts to display in your classroom. What kinds of shapes, angles, and lines can children find? Once they are familiar with looking at different patterns, try these activities:
Distribute a copy of the Quilt Math Reproducible to each child. As you review each of the quilt patterns, ask children to name the different shapes they see. Challenge them to identify the lines of symmetry in each design. Then invite them to color each of the shapes in a symmetrical pattern.
Shapes to Count On
Ask children, working in groups, to count the number of each shape in one of the patterns. Do everyone´s tallies match?
Have teams of children race to copy on a geoboard one or more of the quilt designs from the reproducible. Then encourage them to create their own symmetrical geoboard designs.
Once children have a strong foundation in shapes, you can explore tiling and patterns (key components of the math standards) in more depth. To work with these concepts, try the following activities:
Using color tiles, show children how to create a simple AB pattern, and invite them to make their own. Then try creating patterns of more colors.
Planning a Grid
Give each child a sheet of 1" grid paper. Ask them to plan out their own AB pattern using colors of their choice, then try patterns of three, four, or five colors.
Give pairs of children nine multi-link cubes of three colors each. Encourage them to find out how many variations of a nine-patch square they can make with the cubes.
Invite children to choose a favorite reproducible design and give each child four copies of his or her pattern. Ask children to color all their designs the same. Then challenge the class to arrange these tiny quilt squares in a repeating pattern.
An ideal way for children to integrate the concepts they've just learned and tap into their creativity at the same time is by designing a class quilt.
Invite each child to make his or her own quilt block using a variety of paper squares, triangles, and rectangles. Ask them to arrange the shapes on a separate sheet of paper and glue in place. They can refer to the reproducible for guidance.
Ask each child to record how many shapes of each color they used in their paper patterns and plot these results by making tally marks on a simple class graph. Which shapes and colors were most popular? Least? Next, challenge children to calculate how many of each color and shape they would need to complete a nine-or twelve-block quilt of their pattern.
Putting It Together
Invite the class to create a full-size community quilt by arranging all of their individual blocks on butcher paper or a tarp. For a tiled border, they can add the small, reproducible squares they've colored.