Quilt: What Can You Do with This?

[Ragged Squares Quilt photos used with permission from Crazy Mom Quilts.]

I know other teachers have done math quilts, but I’ve never gotten around to trying it in any of my classes. Still, this image caught my eye and practically begged me to make it into a math lesson for my elementary math club.

I thought of at least two ways I could go with this, but I bet that if we put our brains together, we can come up with even more creative ideas. So here’s the question, ala Dan Meyer:

  • What can you do with this?

How could you use this image as a springboard to doing math? What questions would you ask? What concepts would you try to get across? What would you follow it with? Please comment!

Other photos are available…

Additional Quilt Images

pinkquilt squares

8 thoughts on “Quilt: What Can You Do with This?

  1. Here are some ideas I had (in order of mathematical difficulty):

    Area/Perimeter/Estimation: How many stitches for each set of squares? Would need to know distance between stitches as well as length of string for each stitch. What is the area of one of the larger squares that is showing in the final project?

    Tessellations: What other repeating shapes could replace the square for “tiling the plane” (or some other friendly wording for students)?

    Permutations: With X number of different printed fabrics, how many different 3-in-1 squares can we make? How large could our quilt be without repeating a 3-in-1?

    Optimization: With a given amount of fabric (or thread for stitching: see 1st topic here), what is the largest area of quilt we could make? If we changed the 3-in-1 squares to 4-in-1 squares, how would that change?

  2. If you are homeschooling and/or working with students who like to sew, a good puzzle would be figuring out how many blocks/squares you could get out of a certain length of fabric (or however many fat quarters).

    Many quilters seem to hate doing fabric calculations, but its my favourite part! Either I’m that much of a math geek or I’m just frugal (i.e. if I make each block 1/4″ bigger/smaller I will have less waste at the end of each row).

    Thanks for the idea (and the link) now I’m off to read the archives of “crazy mom quilts.”


  3. Great learning tool. I like Sarah’s answer. Our children don’t mind doing the sewing math or the cooking math, because of having to do the measurements, etc. It’s just a part of life!
    I have found that we can pretty much use anything for learning. We add almost anything. Now, our children are learning to count in Spanish, so I have been doing that with the Littles.
    Looks like a good matching game for them too. My Littles love to play with the fabric. My boys, though, are more likely to make a cowboy’s scarf out of it!

    I included your post in the COH this week. Thanks! http://jacquedixon.com/?p=3843


  4. How could you use diagonals to make sure that the squares were centered? Is there another way? Do you enjoy the effect of not quiet perfectly set squares, or only if they are exact?

    In seeing the whole layout, I notice that the white polka dot squares ‘jump out’ at me: do they stand out for you to? Why do you think so? Do certain colors seem bolder? Is there a way to measure that effect?

    Does the Fibonachi series help in deciding the proportion of different blocks? (A weaver told me that she uses that in determining pleasing color ratios)

    Great blog idea – I wonder how many questions you’ll generate? Thanks for the invite!

  5. Thank you all for your ideas! I enjoy hearing what others come up with — several of these had not occurred to me at all.

    I’ll contribute one: For elementary students, introduce area as measured in squares, progressing to the area of a rectangle as length times width. How does the size of your unit square affect the measurement? What if the sides of your rectangle don’t come out as a whole number of squares? What happens to the area when you double or triple the sides of the rectangle? How might we find the area of other shapes, or of irregular figures?

    Please, keep the ideas coming. This is fun!

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