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Learning outcomes

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 hour


Materials for each student

Technology resources

Computer with internet access



  1. Teacher will direct students’ attention to the quilt square example. Identify this square as the cactus flower pattern. Ask students to think of “math words” or mathematical vocabulary that comes to mind when they see this square.
  2. As students give vocabulary words aloud, the teacher records them on the chart paper.
  3. After entire list is generated, (teacher may add additional words if list is incomplete) students are called on to define words as they relate to the quilt square shown. Correct vocabulary should be used (”triangle”, not “pyramid” for triangle shape, etc.).
  4. Discuss the 3×3 array that this square forms. Ask students how many individual squares can be found in this square (14 squares).
  5. Focus on the two colors used to make the square. Direct a student to show you a square that is one half of one color and one half of another. (”How would we write that fraction?” “Is this entire quilt square exactly one half of one color and one half of another?” “Is that possible? How?”)
  6. Inform students that they will be making a duplicate of the quilt square that you have made. The only variation will be that they may reverse the colors and make the cactus flower out of the color that you used for the background and the background the same color as your cactus flower. Suggest that some squares be exactly like your example and others the opposite colors to make your class quilt more interesting.
  7. Pass out 9×9 inch squares to be used for base of quilt square.
  8. Direct students to arrange their quilt pieces on their 9×9 square completely and have it checked by you, before they begin to glue the pieces into place. They should start at one corner of the square and be sure that adjacent sides fit tightly together as they glue.
  9. The quilt squares should be displayed together to form a class quilt. Vocabulary list may also be added to the display.


Supplemental information

Suggestions of books with quilt themes that may be useful in mathematics-related lessons are:


Quilts are a wonderful springboard for many lessons in mathematics and other subject areas of the curriculum. Allowing students to bring in their own quilts from home would naturally extend this lesson.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 3