Math Quilts

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, September 29, 2006

Grade Level

  • Elementary School

Category

  • Design History

Subject Area

  • Mathematics
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

One or two fifty-minute class periods

Introduction

In this lesson, students will examine geometric quilt patterns to learn how math may have been used to help slaves escape to freedom. They will slide, flip and turn geometric shapes to create a map quilt.

National Standards

Objectives

Students will do the following:
  • examine how geometric shapes turn, flip and slide to create patterns
  • identify and use key mathematical terms when discussing quilt patterns
  • design a quilt top using slides, flips and turns
  • analyze the role quilts might have played in helping slaves escape to freedom
  • examine the role of math in the creation of arts and crafts

Resources

  • Internet websites

Materials

  • six inch squares of multiple colored construction paper or fabric (each student will need at least 12 squares)
  • one piece of large plain paper for each student
  • glue

Procedures

Steps for Learning

Design a Quilt

In this activity, students will use geometric shapes to design a quilt that incorporates an escape route from their classroom to the front door of the school. 1. Give each student at least twelve 6-inch squares of multiple colored construction paper or different colored/designed fabric, glue, and a large piece of plain paper. 2. Tell students that they are to use the paper or fabrics to design a patchwork quilt top. Explain that the quilt top will contain a map that will show how to "escape" from the classroom to the front door of the school. 3. Ask students to cut the construction paper squares into shapes such as squares, triangles and rectangles. Explain to students that they will slide, flip and turn these pieces to create the pattern of the escape route. 4. Provide time for students to share their quilt tops with the class and explain how they manipulated the geometric shapes to create the pattern of the escape route.

Assessment

Reflection
Write a brief summary of how geometry is used in the creation of quilts.List three ways that math is used in the creation of arts and crafts.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Math Activity: Create a Math Story Quilt
1. Read Faith Ringgold's book, Aunt Harriet's Underground Rail Road in the Sky to your students.2. After reading the story, go back and review the images contained in the book. 3. Have students create a quilt-cover picture for a math story. 4. Ask students to write the equation that corresponds to their story.
History Activity: History Quilt
Create a story quilt based on a historic event.

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