SNUGGLE UP TO PATTERN BLOCKS
In this lesson, the students will explore the formation of patterns
with the common geometric shapes represented by pattern blocks. Familiarity
with pattern blocks and their combinations is required, as well as knowledge
of basic fractions and use of thermometers to measure temperature. Students
will use pattern block shapes to form a variety of patterns, and will be
challenged to look for geometric shapes and patterns in nature and in their
daily environment. This lesson is planned to take two days, but may require
more time depending on activities and extensions used.
Mathica's Mathshop 2 #9: Winter Warmup
Reading Rainbow #302: The Patchwork Quilt
Students will be able to:
1. identify common geometric shapes using proper labels.
2. demonstrate understanding of simple fractions as they apply to pattern
3. manipulate common geometric shapes to produce patterns and designs.
4. evaluate materials presented in terms of geometric shapes represented.
5. demonstrate the relationship between a temperature on a thermometer and
their own sensory perceptions.
Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), Grade 4
#3: Communicate scientific data and/or information.
#4: Interpret scientific data and/or information.
#1: Demonstrate an understanding of number concepts.
#2: Demonstrate an understanding of
#3: Demonstrate an understanding of geometric properties and relationships.
#9: Use division to solve problems.
#12: Express or solve problems using
NCTM Standards for Grades K-4:
Standard 1: Mathematics as Problem Solving
Standard 9: Geometry and Spatial Sense
Standard 12: Fractions
Standard 13: Patterns and Relationships
Per group of 4 students:
- quilt books and magazines
- gardening books and magazines
- pictures and posters of flowers and quilts
- overhead or classroom demo thermometer
- banner reading "How Does Your Garden Grow?" with pattern
block leaves and flowers on it
- 4 sheets black 9x12" construction paper
- (for quilt block)
- 4 sheets white or selected pastel 9x12"
- construction paper
- baskets of pattern block manipulatives
- construction paper pattern block in colors matching those in the video
- color chips and work mats
- quilt patchwork
A week in advance of this lesson, send a letter to parents asking
if they have an old or new quilt they can loan the class for this series
of lessons. Have the quilts displayed around the room during your investigation
of pattern blocks. To begin the lesson, allow each group of students five
minutes of free time with the pattern block manipulatives. Next, begin a
review of the shapes and their names. One of several approaches could be
used. You can hold up a shape and ask the class for its name. Conversely,
say the name and ask the students to hold up the appropriate shape. Or you
can play a game such as Pattern Block Concentration. The rules are the same
as for any other concentration or memory game.
Then review the concept of fractional parts of a whole, using the hexagon
as the unit piece. Overhead pattern blocks are excellent to use here as
all pieces can be easily viewed by the students. Place each piece on the
overhead and ask the students to name it. Refer to the hexagon as the whole,
and ask how many of each of the other shapes it takes to cover it. Reinforce
the concept of fractions as equal parts of a whole. Call each fractional
part by name and write the fraction on the board or overhead.
Ask a student to check the temperature graph to see what the outside temperature
was that morning and write it on the board. Review reading the thermometer.
Ask the students what it means when the indicator moves up or down. How
would they feel with each change? Point to the daily temperature on the
board. Ask the students how it felt. Ask them what the temperature might
be when it is really cold. Select several students to show on the thermometer
what the temperature is when it was hot or cold.
Tell the students that on a video you will play, they will meet a new friend
named Mathica. Mathica loves to solve problems. Not only are they going
to check Mathica's work, but they are going to help her. To do this, the
students must do several things.
First, ask them to think about the comments they made about the weather
outside. What time of year is it? Is the temperature going up or down? What
changes will they have to make in their daily lives as the temperature changes?
Remind them about the dual scale, Celsius and Fahrenheit, on the classroom
thermometer. Which scale do we use? (Fahrenheit) They will want to watch
and listen carefully to find out if Mathica uses the same scale.
Second, the students need to be listening for fractions. During the video,
predictions will be made regarding the use of pattern blocks. Their responsibility
is to judge the correctness of these predictions.
And finally, they need to be aware of a new math word that will appear in
this video. This word will describe a new math operation, one different
from the addition and subtraction they do every day. Ask them to listen
for this word and raise their hands when they think they can identify it
for you. [Note: You may want to create an opportunity to use division with
the class earlier in the day. For example, while passing out a snack, count
aloud the total number of pieces there are and talk through how many each
student will get and how many will be left over.]
BEGIN the Mathica's Mathshop 2 video when Math Magician
says, "Once upon a time..." [Note: If your class is familiar with
Mathica's Mathshop, you may choose an alternate starting point, perhaps
when Mathica first appears on the screen looking out the window.]
PAUSE the video when Math Magician says, "...and so begins another
amazing adventure!" Ask the students if what they are about to see
is real or fantasy. How do they know? What were the clues? (once upon a
time, magical world, land of tales, make-believe, elf, math magician, fairytale
land, pointed ears) RESUME video.
PAUSE video when Mathica says, "I feel like an elfsicle!"
Ask the students how they think Mathica feels. Is an "elfsicle"
cold? How can they tell Mathica is cold? (shivering, use of word "elfsicle",
fire, blanket, quilt) RESUME video.
PAUSE video when Mathica says, "Down about double again."
Ask the students what Mathica meant when she said the temperature was down
again. What is temperature? (how hot or cold something is, measured in degrees)
How do you measure temperature? (thermometer)
Mathica reported the temperature in degrees Celsius. Is this the same scale
that we use in class? (No, we use the Fahrenheit scale.) Ask the students
if they remember the difference between the two scales. (Celsius: water
freezes at 0 degrees. Fahrenheit: water freezes at 32 degrees.) Did the
students notice that Mathica reported the temperature as a minus reading?
Demonstrate to them that a minus reading on the Celsius scale means below
freezing. Poor Mathica is really cold. Ask the students what they think
Math Magician will do to improve things. RESUME video.
PAUSE video when Math Magician says, "What colour will cover
a whole flower?" [Note: Be prepared for someone to question the spelling
of colour. Explain that in the Great Britain, Scotland, Australia, and New
Zealand, several words are spelled differently. "Colour" is one
of them. Point out the countries on the map or globe. Then ask the students
if the producers of Mathica's Mathshop came from the United States.]
Ask the students what shape represents a "whole flower"? (hexagon)
What other shapes did they notice? (yellow triangle, blue parallelogram,
red trapezoid, leaves and stem) Could any of these shapes cover the "hexagon"
flower? How many of each would it take? (6 triangles, 3 parallelograms,
2 trapezoids) Does Mathica have enough? RESUME video.
PAUSE video when Math Magician asks, "Would yellow do the trick?"
Ask the students if the yellow will work. (no) Why not? (only 4 of them)
How many does Mathica need? (6) RESUME video.
PAUSE the video when Math Magician says, "Excellent! Is that
not a sight to warm your heart?" Ask the students if they noticed what
Mathica called the blue parallelogram. (rhombus) Was she correct in using
this term? (yes) [Note: Students are taught particular names for given shapes
for ease in identification and usage, but they should be taught that many
different shapes can share the same name. For example, polygon, quadrilateral,
rhombus, and parallelogram, to name a few.] RESUME video.
PAUSE video when the Math Magician says, "Has not an emperor
everything anyone could wish for?" Ask the students if they can think
of something the emperor might want and can not have. (to live forever,
to be able to talk to animals, to know everything, to never sneeze) RESUME
PAUSE video when the emperor says, "How many days of spring
can an emperor buy?" Ask the students how we could find the answer
to this question, assuming that the emperor could really buy days of spring
with his 20 pearls. We know how many pearls he has and how much each day
will cost. Provide color chips and work mats to each group to facilitate
discussion. Listen for the word "divide" or "division"
during their discussions. RESUME video.
PAUSE video when the Emperor says, " Twenty divided by three
equals six with two remaining." Ask the students if they got the same
answer using their color chips? Can the students think of other situations
when division, or dividing into groups, could be used? (carrying library
books, passing out papers in class, dealing cards) Give them several examples
to work on their work mats. Demonstrate the addition principle involved
in each. RESUME video.
STOP the video when Math Magician says, "Now, there I may be
of some help!" Poor Math Magician! He seemed so upset by the emperor's
request, until he heard the word "sight". Ask the students, what
"sight" means? (seeing things, looking at things) Tell students
they can help too. The emperor is correct when he says that there is very
little more beautiful than a spring flower, especially after a cold, gloomy
winter. They can not make spring come any sooner, but they can make flowers
by creating their very own garden, a pattern block garden.
Invite the students to look at the gardening books and magazines,
while you distribute the construction paper pattern block pieces and background
paper. Make sure each child also has glue and crayons or markers available.
Explain to the students that it may be cold and gloomy outside, but we can
create warmth and beauty in a pattern block garden. Give simple directions
and allow each student to "garden" at will, using crayons or markers
to add leaves, stems and other embellishments.
When the "gardens" are complete, ask each student to describe
his/hers, naming the shapes used and explaining any unique touches added.
To display, tape each garden to a piece of laminating film, if available,
and spotlight them, hanging from ceiling to floor. In a dark room, they
glow like jewels! Close this portion of the lesson with a shared reading
of a book or a poem pertaining to gardens or flowers. Good examples are
The Vegetable Thieves, A Child's Garden of Verses, and Miss Mopp's Garden.
Pre-viewing activities - Day 2
Tell students In their last video journey, they discovered one way to keep
warm, but there are others. Remember Mathica's quilt? Today they are going
to learn more about quilts, especially patchwork quilts, a uniquely American
Invite the students to look through quilting books and magazines at the
enormous variety of quilt patterns. Ask them to name geometric shapes they
find. How many different shapes can they find? Have them write the names
down. Ask them to look at the colors used. Supply some sheets of actual
quilt patterns for exploration. [Note: Several are included for this purpose.]
Color and count them. Point out that many different pieces or patches are
stitched together to form squares or blocks.
Show the students old and new quilts. A quilt is useful. It keeps us warm.
But even more importantly, an old quilt is a link between us and the past.
An old quilt is a bond between us and the person who made the quilt, even
if we don't know the person's name. Explore the intricacies of quilting
with the students. If you are a quilter, bring some fabrics, cut some pieces,
and sew some squares while the students watch. If time permits, and you
have materials and volunteer help, consider letting the students try their
hand at it. They can certainly enjoy the colors and the thrill of helping
you plan such an important undertaking.
Focus for Viewing
In the video today, Tanya's Grandma is making a patchwork quilt from one
basic shape. Ask the students to see what shape Grandma used. Other shapes
can be used too, but like this one, they need to fit together with no gaps
or holes. Can the students think of one very basic shape that won't fit
Patchwork quilts are full of memories. Made from bits and pieces of recycled
fabrics, each quilt has a unique story to tell. Recycling is important.
Why? What are some other ways families can recycle?
BEGIN the Reading Rainbow video as the butterfly loops the sky and the
signature song begins.
PAUSE video when LeVar says, "...to create a brand new whole
that's a whole lot greater than the sum of its parts." Ask what recycle
means. (reuse, use again, do over) What does he mean when he says "greater
than the sum of its parts"? (This is deep! You may get silence. Ask
the students to look at each little piece of fabric. On their own, they
are not very outstanding, but when you put them all together....Wow!) RESUME
PAUSE video when LeVar says, "...that you tuck under your chin
at night." What is a patchwork quilt? Do any of the students have one?
Where did it come from? RESUME video.
PAUSE video when Grandma says, "...making this quilt is going
to be a joy!" Ask the students how long a year is. Relate it to the
space between Christmases. Look at a year on a calendar. It does seem like
a long time, but Grandma thinks it will be worth it. How does Tanya feel?
PAUSE video when the narrator says, "added Tanya to the quilt,
too." Did Grandma really add Tanya to the quilt? (no) What did she
add? (patches of fabric from Tanya's Halloween costume) What shape? (square)
STOP the video when the narrator says, "...from your Mama and
Grandma." Tell students that Tanya's quilt was truly a masterpiece,
made of patches of memories and stitched with love. Her Grandma made the
quilt so Tanya would be warm and cozy and so that she would always be able
to remember her family. Each little scrap of fabric would tell a story to
Tanya about something that happened in her life or someone important. Do
you have something that helps you remember happy times? (Allow responses.)
Tell students they will use memories of happy times and warm places to make
some quilt blocks for a classroom quilt. Pass out background papers and
baskets of construction paper pattern block shapes. Have students arrange
the shapes to form their own patterns and then glue them down. Ask students
if there are pictures in their squares or just groupings of colors and shapes
that make them feel good.
When all the blocks are finished, arrange them on a sheet of paper in quilt
formation. Have the class sit in front of their "quilt" to admire
it. Invite comments and sharing. How does their quilt make them feel? What
do certain blocks remind them of?
In closing, invite each student to pick a book and a quilt or pillow to
curl up with. Encourage shared reading and quiet discussion. Have some taped
books and picture books on hand. Some may wish to write in their journals
and share with the group. [Note: At this point, I sat on the floor and read
aloud some of my children's favorite books to the class. I shared some of
the poems that my father read to me when I was growing up. The Patchwork
Quilt helped create a reflective mood.]
1. Visit a local quilt show.
2. Ask area quilters to come to class and share
3. Ask a parent to come to talk about the old quilt they sent with their
4. Visit a local fabric store and look at fabrics.
5. Take a Shape Walk. In groups, walk around the school and record the shapes
that are found. Report back to class.
6. Invite a tile setter to visit the class and talk about setting tile and
7. Mosaic art is one of the oldest art forms. Find someone who knows this
art and ask them to show the class what they do.
1. Plan a quilt! Visit a local fabric store. How much fabric will you need?
How much will it cost?
2. Patch it! How many squares would it take to make a certain size quilt?
Does the number you need change when you change the size of the square?
3. Compare prices of quilts. What things affect the price of a quilt?
4. With older students, work on tessellation. In a quilt, the patches are
stitched together without gaps! Not all geometric shapes lend themselves
to this particular quilting technique. Explore with the students which shapes
will and which will not.
5. Graph information gathered from a large quilt show, the Houston International,
for example. How many quilts from how many countries were there? How many
6. Make fraction flowers. [The activity sheet is included for this purpose.]
This will let you know that your class has a good grasp of fractions! In
addition to the regular pattern block pieces, have some white ones. Practice
by asking the students to make a fraction flower showing 1/3. They could
do this in several ways, but the easiest is to have 2 blue parallelograms
and one white one in the same flower. The student will have to tell you
what their "whole" is.
1. Write a story and illustrate it using pattern block pictures.
2. Make a shape book. Have a page for each shape. Record where it was found.
3. Write a letter to someone connected with a large quilt show. Ask them
questions about the quilts in the show. How many were there? Where did they
4. Write a shape song to the tune of "If I had a Hammer...." You
might choose, for example: "If I had a rectangle,....."
1. Make a real class quilt. Ask each child to bring a square of fabric from
home. Stitch them together and let the students tie them. Ask the principal
to contribute. Allow the class to decide what to do with their creation.
It might be used as a wall hanging in the school or perhaps donated to a
2. Find an old local quilt. Find out about who made it. Are any members
of their family still living in the area?
3. Quilts travel. Many quilt books are history books, because quilts are
uniquely personal testimonials. Look at an old quilt. What was it like when
the quilt was made? How was life different then?
1. Geometric shapes are pleasing to the eye. However, in nature beauty is
not always enough. Why are some shapes good for some things while others
are not? A super example for primary students is the hexagon in a honeycomb.
Why is a hexagon the best shape? Make a honeycomb by folding paper into
hexagons. Try triangles, squares, and circles. Why will a circle not work?
What happens? This will lead right into talking about bees and other creatures.
The Quilt Story, by Tomie de Paola
Long Live Earth, by Meighan Morrison
A Chair for My Mama, by Vera B. Williams
A Garden of Quilts, Mary Elizabeth Johnson, Oxmoor.
Texas Quilts, Texas Women, Suzanne Yabsley, University of Texas at A &
Texas Quilts, Texas Treasures, Texas Heritage
1995-1996 National Teacher Training Institute / Austin
Master Teacher: Linda Dyke
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online