Overview: Free math bee lesson plan for elementary school. Math is an important piece of every beautiful quilt! After reviewing reflectional symmetry, learners create symmetrical designs on a fabric "quilt" square.
Subject: Math: Geometry, Visual & Performing Arts: Arts & Crafts, Visual Arts, 21st Century Skills: Consumer Skills
Grades: 4th, 5th, 6th
Duration: 1 hour
Related Concepts: Home Economics, Art, Math, Geometry
Students will be able to:
- Recognize the concept of reflectional symmetry in designs.
- Create a quilting design with shapes that shows reflectional symmetry.
Essential Questions: What is reflectional symmetry? How can I create a symmetrical design with shapes?
Vocabulary: Symmetry, Reflectional Symmetry, Quilting, Fabric, Remnants, Design
Common Core Standards Addressed:
- The Quilting Bee by Gail Gibbons
- Art supplies (rulers, glue, scissors
- Quilting supplies (8x8 squares of fabric, Polygon shapes to trace, heavyweight cotton, fabric pens, large piece of cardboard for full class quilt
- Examples of quilt squares (images or fabric versions)
- Projection system
Read the picture book The Quilting Bee by Gail Gibbons to the class. It describes what a quilt is and how a group of people come together to make a quilt together. Ask students about their own experiences with quilts, such as whether they have a quilt at home.
- Direct/Guided Instruction:
Show the class examples of quilt squares and completed quilts with geometric pattern designs using a projector to display the images. If possible, bring in a real quilt for students to examine in person.
Review the concept of symmetry with the class and show students example quilt squares that display reflective symmetry (where a line could be drawn through a design and the two sides would be mirror images of each other). Ask students to locate the line(s) of symmetry on the quilt square examples.
Explain that the students will be having their own quilting bee and creating a class quilt by gluing shapes cut from fabric remnants to a pre-cut fabric square. Encourage students to personalize their square by selecting fabric types and shapes that are significant to them since quilts were often created with personal meaning in mind. For example, a student who enjoys gymnastics or dance might choose to create a design using spandex remnants (similar to a leotard material) and use circles and half-circle shapes in to represent the rotations gymnasts and dancers perform. Students should also choose favorite colors or color combinations in addition to design patterns and fabrics that have meaning to them.
- Independent Practice:
Students create an 8 X 8 (or other predetermined size) square with heavyweight cotton or felt as a base. Provide a variety of fabric remnants for learners to cut shapes from and create a design on their square that shows reflective symmetry. They can use stencils to trace polygons to cut out or use a ruler to measure and cut their own shapes.
Encourage individuals to sketch their ideas on paper prior to cutting the fabric and gluing their fabric shape designs to their square. They use rulers to find the line of symmetry in their square as they work to help ensure that their designs are symmetrical.
Whole Class Discussion:
After students have completed their quilt squares, they briefly share them with the rest of the class and explain the significance of their design choices. Explain that the squares will be glued (or taped or heat bonded) to a larger base (such as a large piece of heavyweight cotton or cardboard) to create a class quilt for display.
Close the lesson with a brief class discussion based around the prompt "Why do you think quilters often use symmetry in their quilting designs?"
- Monitor progress while the students are working on their quilt squares to ensure that they are following directions. Review each student's completed quilt square to ensure that they used reflectional symmetry.
- English Language Learners: Review key vocabulary terms that may be unfamiliar, such as symmetry, reflection, and polygon. Provide a visual reference with different shapes and their names that students can refer to as they work. Pair students with peers who have strong language and math skills.
- Students with special needs: For students with physical challenges, provide pre-cut fabric shape options that do not require scissors. Pair students with peers if needed.
- Higher-level students: Encourage students to measure shapes without using stencils. Students should use multiple lines of symmetry in their designs and identify them.
Students can complete the worksheet Math Quilts to continue practicing using geometric patterns in the context of quilting.
Additional materials to guide your teaching: