Choose a quilt block from the Quilt Blocks Activity Sheet. (Alternatively, you can search the Web or some other source for other quilt block patterns.)
Quilt Blocks Activity Sheet
Give each child four black‑and‑white copies of the selected quilt
square and crayons or markers. Then, ask students to fold one square on its main diagonal. When students color, instruct them to color such that if we were to fold the square back up, like colors would touch. The remaining three quilt squares should be colored the same way.
As students work, circulate the room to ensure that directions are being followed properly (be sure to have extra quilt squares in case students make mistakes). Also, provide each student with a
work mat large enough to fit all four quilt squares, such as a poster board.
Ask the children to place one of the colored squares on the top left-hand corner, and then to place an identical square in the same
orientation on top of it. Have students slide the identical square to
the right (edges touching) and rotate it one half‑turn, or 180 degrees. (From the start, caution
students to ensure that the top square is in the same orientation as
the square below it. This is often where students make a mistake, which
will disrupt the entire design.)
Then, have them place a third square
face down (so that no colors/designs are showing) on top of the first square. Ask students to overlay the squares such that like colors are touching. Have students flip it down directly below, edges touching.
Finally, instruct them to place their last quilt square on top of the upper right-hand square (so that like parts are overlapping), and turn it a quarter‑turn (clockwise), and place it directly below.
The result of student designs should be a four‑square quilt
with rotational symmetry, as shown below. Encourage students to discuss
their resulting designs and the effects of the flips, turns, and
Now give each child a small mirror and ask each to place it on the
design in various places to see if the design shows in the mirror what
is on the "dark" side of the mirror. (Individual mirrors for each child
will aid in the investigation as the children find reflections in the
resulting design, but if you do not have enough mirrors for all the
students, you may wish to have them work in small groups.) You might ask
them to focus on the left half of the quilt, or focus on the right half of the quilt. [They will be the upside‑down copies of each other].
Then compare the squares in the top half of the quilt, then the bottom half. [They will be
right‑left copies of each other.] Introducing the term line symmetry,
encourage the children to find as many examples of it as they can in
the four‑part design they created. They may wish to glue the completed
design onto a piece of paper, marking each line of symmetry with a dark
When the children are ready, call them together to share their
designs and describe how each of the squares in it can be obtained by
another square using flips, slides and turns. You may wish to encourage
alternate explanations. Then have students discuss the lines of
symmetry they found in their designs. You may wish to ask the students
to draw a sketch and reflect upon the meaning of line symmetry.