Literature Connection:

The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy pictures by Jerry Pinkney

Mathematical Strand:

Geometry, Number Sense, and Algebra


Students will recognize squares and find a pattern for counting squares.

Grade Level:


Lesson Created by:

Joe Gelroth, Eugene Field Elementary, Manhattan, KS

LESSON Description


  • Book (The Patchwork Quilt, by Valerie Flourney), pencils, prepared picture of a quilt made with a 9x9 block of 81 squares.

1. Launching the lesson (engage):

  1. Read the story.
  2. Ask the question: "If the quilt is made up of small squares joined together into a 9 by 9 pattern, how many squares are in the quilt?"

2. Developing the lesson:

  1. Provide the students with a prepared drawing of a nine by nine pattern of small squares and encourage them to count the squares.
  2. The students will quickly respond that there are 81 squares. Encourage them to count all the squares, not just the smallest ones.
  3. The students will soon discover that there are lots of squares of many different sizes. The must be encouraged to organize their counting pattern in order to solve the problem.

3. Closure/Discussion/Elaboration:

  1. Discuss with the students what patterns they discovered as they attempted to count all the squares.
  2. Discuss how they organized their work.
  3. Discuss what pattern emerged that made the counting of the squares easier than just using "brute force" and attempting to count each and every square.
  4. If the students are successful in finding a pattern, they can be challenged to extend their thinking and attempt to solve for the number of squares in a much larger quilt.

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Copyright 2001 S.Ma.R.T.Books and Kansas State University