Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Arithmetic Artistry

Stacy Durham


Students will create a classroom quilt that illustrates the many unique ways that children use math skills.


The student explains and demonstrates the addition and subtraction of common fractions using concrete materials, drawings, story problems, and algorithms.

The student explains and demonstrates the addition and subtraction of decimals (to hundredths) using concrete materials, drawings, story problems, and algorithms.

The student uses a wide variety of models (for example, manipulatives, diagrams) and applies counting procedures to investigate measurements of length, area, volume, and perimeter.

The student investigates angle measures using models and manipulatives for the common angles of 45, 90, and 180 (straight angle) and uses these angles as reference points for measures of other angles.

The student uses appropriate geometric vocabulary to describe properties and attributes of two- and three-dimensional figures (for example, faces, edges, vertices, diameter).

The student draws and classifies two-dimensional figures having up to eight or more sides.

The student knows and creates congruent and similar figures.


-Enough material to create an appropriate size quilt for your class. ( I suggest that each student have a square 1’ x1’ to work on.) For a class of 30 students, you would need to have two pieces of fabric 6’x 5’. (Two large pieces of light colored material. ( two white double sheets will usually work fine)
-Scrap material, ribbon, yarn, buttons to be used for decoration
-Fabric glue (one bottle for every 4 students)
-Fabric pens of various colors (one package for every four students) Permanent Sharpie markers will work fine)
-Scissors for each student
-Rulers for each student
-Two clothespins for each student
-30 index cards
- Pictures of quilts
-Flournoy, Valerie. [The Patchwork Quilt]. Penguin Putnam. January 1985
-Copy of the quilt template for each student (attached file)
-Piece of yellow chalk for each student
- Yardstick
- 26’piece of 2 in.wide ribbon


1. Obtain all of the materials
2. Print a copy of the quilt template for each student
3. Make enough index cards for each student ( file attachment gives suggested ideas)
4. Cut 1 x1 squares from one of the pieces of material
5. Divide the class into groups of 4
6. Ask for parent volunteers that day!


1. Divide the desks in your room into groups of 4.

2. Have the supplies needed for the group already divided up and on the students' desks.

3. Display the pictures of various quilts around the room. Ask the children to tell you about some of the quilts that they have seen at relative’s houses. Why are they special? What does each square represent? Have they ever been part of creating a quilt?

4. Read the story [The Patchwork Quilt] to the class. Discuss the book and why the quilt was so important. What did each square represent?

5. Tell the class that they are going to create a math quilt. Explain that you know that each one of them is different and that they all have their own methods for remembering the math skills that they have learned this year. Explain that you all are going to make a beautiful quilt to display all of the unique math methods that they have used in 4th grade. Tell them that they each will have their own square in this quilt.

6. Instruct the students that before they begin on the actual quilt, they have to practice the illustration on paper. This will be the template for the actual quilt.

7. Have the students choose one of the index cards with the various math skills that have been worked on throughout the year printed on the back . After they choose a card to illustrate, then they can let their creative juices flow and create their square!

8. Once they have chosen a card, they are to print their names on the front of the cards.
Afterwards, they need to hand in the card, along with their templates. They should not throw these away. The students may work together on this project, but everyone should illustrate a different skill- to keep the quilt interesting. They may use the math books and any other resources that may be needed. The teacher should circulate to answer questions during the project.

9. Spread the cards out on a table and let the students pick a card to illustrate.

10. Pass out the template squares and have the kids illustrate the skill on the paper. They should include their names and the name of the skill that they are illustrating.

Day 2

1. Have the students take out their illustrations. They may add any last minute details that they need to.

2. Pass out the students’ material squares and have them wait until you are ready to begin.

3. Explain to the class that they only have the one material square, so they need to follow their paper template closely. They should make changes on the template first.

4. Have the class clip their material squares to their desks with the clothespins provided.

5. Next, they need to draw out their illustrations on the material with their chalk. After the drawing is how they want it, they are ready to use the fabric pens and the other scrap material to decorate their squares. They must write their names and the skill they are illustrating. They should also write any written instructions on how to complete the skill with the fabric pen.

6. Tell them that they need to make sure that another student looking at the quilt will easily follow the steps that they are showing on their quilt.

7. As they are working on their squares, you may want to design a class square. You could include your name, school name, and title of the quilt and the year. Depending on the number of students in your class, you may have a few extra squares You can use these to demonstrate ideas to your class.

8. Have the students hand in their templates and their idea cards.

Day 3

1. Before the students begin to help you with this step, lay your large piece of fabric out on a table. Use a yardstick to measure out 1’x1’ squares. Mark the lines with chalk so that the squares will be visible to the students.

2. Have each group come and use the fabric glue to fasten their squares to the quilt. They will need to put a generous amount of glue around the edges of the square so that it will be attached well.

3. After each group has attached their squares, have the students attach buttons on the corners of each square. They can also line each square with ribbon, covering up the edges of each.

4. The last step will be to add the 2 in. wide ribbon around the entire length of the quilt. This will finish the ends and the quilt!

5. This quilt can then be a basis for class graphs- How many squares demonstrated a skill using fractions?

6. The quilt can also be a teaching tool for future classes learning a new skill. Sometimes children learn better when another child explains a concept.


You will assess the learning of the students by the skills they demonstrate when they create their squares. They will be required to view a math skill written on an index card, and then create a visual for that skill. They will hand in their index cards and their templates. As an additional assessment, once the quilt is finished, students will be called upon to come to the board, choose a square and create a problem for the math skill.


This lesson should be taught toward the end of the school year, after the students have been taught skills such as measuring, fractions, decimals, geometry, and graphing.
Having the students create an entire quilt for a specific skill, such as fractions could extend the lesson. Each square could represent a different fraction. The students would need to use measurement to create fraction pieces to put on their square.

Web Links

Web supplement for Arithmetic Artistry
Math shortcuts

Web supplement for Arithmetic Artistry

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