This activity is designed to help students develop spatial sense by decomposing shapes into smaller units. Students are shown a quilt square and must use their small quilt pieces to create that design in either the 4-square or 9-square mat by sliding and turning the quilt pieces to achieve the desired image. Students should assemble the quilt pieces on either the 4-square or 9-square mat which helps them organize their work.
The Quilt Square Challenge was originally designed for a middle school unit on transformations. Since then, students as young as first grade have enjoyed the challenge and mastered the art of transforming quilt pieces to produce the desired design. It is amazing to watch students as they maneuver the pieces and improve their spatial sense over the course of the activity.
Make overheads of the quilt patterns or use the pdf file with an LCD projector so that students see a large visual of the pattern. Provoke discussion with students about how they see the pattern. Some students reproduce using the black spaces; others see the white spaces. Many students see a pattern (e.g. tree, boat) that helps them reconstruct the pattern. Other students scan square by square and reconstruct the design one square at a time.
Provide adequate time for students to complete the different patterns. Some teachers check students' completed work, then allow these students to "mess around" with other designs while other students are finishing the challenge design.
Read more about Quilt Square Challenge including additional classroom management suggestions, lesson plan, and materials. The Mathwire page includes links to download all templates designed by Terry Kawas for Mathwire.com.