Building Knowledge About Shapes: Quilts

A good way for children to learn about shapes is to build them or to use them to design something like a quilt. Children will work with quilts this year. In the quilting unit, children will be working with combinations of two shapes, a square and a right triangle.

They will be learning fundamental geometric principles about the properties of shapes, congruence (sameness) of shapes, transformations of shapes, visualization, and symmetry.

The children will transform the shapes (or combinations of shapes) by sliding, turning and flipping them. Slides are transformations that move a shape along some imaginary line. For example:

Flips are transformations that make mirror images of shapes. For example:

Turns are transformations that rotate a shape around a corner. For example:

In the quilting unit, children will be transorming squares and triangles to desing "core squares,"and then transforming the core squares to design their quilts. Through experience and discussion they will learn which properties of a shape stay the same when the shape is transormed. They will also learn that shapes are congruent if they can be transformed to match exactly. The knowledge that children develop about shapes helps them become abstract thinkers. The activities require them to use mathematical vocabulary and reasoning skills. The children will also create geometric designs (patterns) with the shapes and transformations of shapes. They will learn about the symmetry of geometric designs.

Symmetry is a concept that is fundamental to higher level mathematics and science. It is also an artistic concept, and is readily observed in both natural and built spaces around us. This connection which makes the quilting unit especially fun.