Readiness for Euclidean geometry can be gained by teaching intuitive geometry or by giving children an opportunity to build increasingly elaborate constructions with polygons (closed plane figures having three or more straight sides)
-Jerome S. Bruner , 1966
Many quilt blocks allow us to experience practical geometry in a special way. Boys and girls alike are enticed by the colors, textures and patterns of traditional quilts. Viewing, touching and talking about the triangles, squares and rhomboid parallelograms of the ancient Chinese tangram helps children make friends with the vocabulary and concepts they will need when they meet that old Greek Euclidean and his amazing geometry.
A while back my niece Marlene provided passage on a quilter’s cruise for me. Some gift, right? Classes were filled by the time I registered so before sailing I cut all the pieces for a tangram block quilt (green, yellow & red– see my quilt block layout above) to piece together by hand. When The Warlord’s Puzzle hit bookstore shelves, a master quilter in upstate New York designed this tangram block. For detailed instructions see Resources. Quilt block pieces may be enlarged to suit. During scheduled “Quilt at Sea” classes, I settled myself on a comfortable deck chair and stitched my tangram blocks. Passengers strolling by stopped to ask about my colorful project. I “just happened” to have a copy of The Warlord’s Puzzle and chatted about how touching, arranging, and sewing plane geometric figures helps prepare children to learn Euclidean geometry. During my seven day cruise I met lots of delightful people and was able to piece an entire lap-quilt top. Now I am hand-quilting the sandwich of quilt top, batting and backing. I find my bright handcraft perfect for the slow times at book signings–a fine conversation starter about picture book crafts and mathematics learning. If you choose, you’ll find this project perfect to share with your favorite kids–a fine conversation starter about squares, triangles, rhomboid parallelograms and practical geometry.
When I returned home from my cruise a fellow sailor/quilter emailed me this photo of the tangram quilt block she created from my pattern.