By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, September 29, 2006
- Elementary School
- Design History
- Social Studies
One or two fifty-minute class periods
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.
Standard 5. Level II. Understands and applies basic and advanced properties of the concepts of geometry 1. Knows basic geometric language for describing and naming shapes (e.g., trapezoid, parallelogram, cube, sphere) 3. Predicts and verifies the effects of combining, subdividing, and changing basic shapes 5. Uses motion geometry (e.g., turns, flips, slides) to understand geometric relationships
Historical Understanding. Standard 1. Level II. Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns 4. Knows how to identify patterns of change and continuity in the history of the community, state, and nation, and in the lives of people of various cultures from times long ago until today
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
- Internet websites
- 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
Steps for Learning
Design a QuiltIn 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.
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.