Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Aloha Symmetry

Tara Ply


Inspired by the story "Luka's Quilt," second graders use scissors and contrasting paper to create a handcrafted paper Hawaiian quilt square demonstrating their understanding of the concept of symmetry across two lines of reflection. Students will use their quilt square as the means of communicating what they have learned through a graphic display.


The student understands basic concepts of spatial relationships, symmetry, and reflections.


For each student and the teacher:
-One piece of white paper, 8" square
-One piece of assorted colored paper, 8" square
-Glue stick

For the teacher only:
-Book, [Luka's Quilt] by Georgia Guback, Greenwillow Press, 1992.
-Paper cutter, guillotine style with inch ruler markings


1. Using the paper cutter, prepare one 8" square piece of white paper for each child in the class, yourself, and a few extra pieces to allow for errors. Repeat for assorted colored paper.
2. Gather pencils, scissors, and glue sticks for the students to use.
3. Make one quilt square using Project Direction Page. (See attached files.) This will be used as a demonstration model during the lesson.


Note: This lesson may be used to teach symmetry and can relate to a cross-curriculum unit on Hawaii.

1. Begin the lesson by reviewing what makes a shape symmetrical. Read the story "Luka's Quilt" to the class.

2. Initiate a discussion of the quilt that Luka was given in the story. Discuss how Tutu created symmetrical designs on her quilt squares by folding and cutting green material, then sewing her cut designs on the white material.

3. Explain to the class that today they will be making their own Hawaiian quilt square using what they have learned about symmetry and about paper folding and cutting.

4. Display a finished quilt square to the class. Ask students to tell how the line of symmetry was made. Discuss as needed. Show the class how the design on the square demonstrates symmetry across two lines of reflection.

5. Explain to the class that they will now be able to create their own Hawaiian quilt square using their choice of a color paper and a corresponding white square. Remind the children that this will demonstrate symmetry across two lines of reflection.

6. Distribute a square of white paper, a square of colored paper (let students choose from the colors you cut out), a pencil, scissors, and a glue stick to each child.

7. Demonstrate and have the students follow along with you as you fold the colored square in half lengthwise, then crosswise. (See Project Direction Page in Associated Files.)

8. Draw a simple creative design on the resulting quadrant. Circulate to assist students with their designs. Remember, the design must originate in the folded corner at the center of the square.

9. When all of the students have their design drawn on the paper, demonstrate to the class how to cut out their designs and unfold them on the two lines of symmetry. Circulate to assist students as needed. Lower performing students may need to make a second attempt.

10. Using the design that you cut out, demonstrate to the class how to glue the design they cut out onto the square of white paper using the glue stick. Place the square aside to dry.

11. Direct the students to now glue their own designs on their white papers. Give the students time to work independently, circulating as needed to assist and provide direction for low-performing students. Make observations of any difficulties students are experiencing, noting which children may need reteaching at the end of the lesson.

13. When students have had time to complete their quilt squares, lead a discussion of how each square is different from everyone else's yet similar in many ways. Have several children demonstrate to the class how their own square demonstrates symmetry across two lines of reflection. Render formative evaluation on completed squares and display as desired. Scissors, glue sticks, and pencils may be put away as needed.


The teacher observes during the whole group activity to determine whether or not students can correctly fold, draw, and cut to produce a cut paper design demonstrating symmetry across two lines of reflection for their Hawaiian quilt square.
Formatively evaluate the cut paper colored design produced by the student during the independent work portion of the lesson to determine whether or not the student correctly folded the colored square of paper, drew a design on the paper, and cut out the design they drew on the paper in such a way as to demonstrate symmetry across two lines of reflection. This is a low-stakes assessment for information gathering purposes only.
Follow up with small-group reteaching sessions for any students who demonstrated incomplete knowledge of lesson concepts.


1. You may wish for students to work with each other to create multi-squared quilts for a hall or bulletin board display.
2. You may choose to have students research the history of Hawaiian quilts and the meanings of their various designs in a classroom center.
3. You may wish for students to journal a response to the activity in a math journal entry.

Web Links

This website is a purveyor of quilts, but has some background information about Hawaiian quilts.

This website shows images of Hawaiian quilts and tells a bit of their history.
Hawaiian Quilter

This website tells the history of Hawaiian quilting.
History of Hawaiian Quilting

Attached Files

The Project Direction Page.     File Extension: pdf

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