Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup

Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-4

Thanksgiving Quilt

Video Overview

Students in this lesson previously heard stories about quilts and became familiar with different shapes and dividing the shapes into halves. They now create quilt squares from construction paper. First, the whole class reviews how to cut a square into two congruent triangles. Students then learn how to create a quilt square with the triangles. Then, working in pairs, children cut their four squares into triangles, rearrange them until they have a design they like, and glue the squares down. This piece is then centered on a larger rectangle. Students develop spatial sense as they discuss and handle the different shapes, and connect geometric ideas to number ideas as they cut squares into halves and find they have congruent triangles. To tie the lesson into the Thanksgiving holiday, students are asked to state what they are thankful for. Students use mathematical language as they show and describe their quilt squares and read their statement of thanks. Connections are made to real life as students arrange this lesson's quilt squares with those from a previous lesson to form a big rectangle on the floor.

Topics for Discussion

The following areas provide a focus for discussion after you view the video. You may want to customize these areas or focus on your own discussion ideas.

Building Geometry Language

  1. Describe how Ms. McAlear allowed the language of geometry to grow naturally from the children's explorations to connect their informal language with the more common geometric terms.

  2. One student said that her design was "pointy." What do you think this student was thinking about? How could this girl have been encouraged to expand on her description? How could this moment be used to enhance students' understanding of the size of angles?

  3. Several children said their designs had a diamond inside. This diamond is also a square. Why do you think the children called it a diamond rather than a square? What does this tell you about their understanding of geometric shapes?

  4. Identify the ways in which this lesson enhanced students' spatial sense.

  5. At the beginning of the lesson, Ms. McAlear asked, "What if we were going to share them [the two triangles]? Would you care what piece you got?" What was she trying to help the children understand? How do these questions connect fraction concepts with geometric concepts?

Organizing and Facilitating a Lesson

  1. Outline the main components and sequence of the lesson. Discuss the effectiveness of the lesson as it has been outlined. Would you alter any part of the sequence? Why or why not?

  2. In the beginning of the lesson, Ms. McAlear used a magnetic board and put magnets on the back of the triangular pieces. What were some advantages of using the magnetic board? What could substitute?

  3. The children worked in pairs during the lesson. Evaluate the effectiveness of the pair work.

  4. Ms. McAlear stated, "One person. . . gets the paper, and the other person is going to get the scissors, and then later when we're ready for the glue, that same person that got the scissors can get the glue." Why did she make these statements? How did establishing these expectations affect the flow of the lesson?

  5. Why did Ms. McAlear have students fold the eight-inch white square into fourths? Why do you think this procedure was necessary?

  6. Identify reasons for bringing students together as a whole group at the end of the lesson. What are other ways of ending a lesson?


Making Quilt Square Designs with Rectangles

Do the activity described in the "An Exploration" section, but this time cut the four smaller squares into halves so that the resulting pieces are eight congruent rectangles. Then find as many different arrangements of the rectangles as you can that fit on the eight-inch square. Compare the number of arrangements possible with the rectangles with the number possible with the triangles.

Exploring Quilt Patterns Research information on the history of quilts, the stories behind some famous quilt patterns, and the geometry of quilt patterns. If you are working with a group, share your information. To extend the activity, compile an annotated bibliography of children's literature and resource books for use in developing a unit on quilts that emphasizes geometric connections.


© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy