Grandpa's Quilt

Age 3 to 11

Grandpa's Quilt by Betsy Franco and Linda A. Bild

Publisher: Children's Press(CT)
ISBN: 9780516265513

Grandpa loves his cozy quilt - but unfortunately it isn't long enough to cover his toes! His grandchildren try turning the quilt around, then they try cutting a strip off the top of the quilt and sewing it onto the bottom, but it still isn't long enough. In the end, they cut the quilt into squares and sew it back together again so that it is long and thin, just like Grandpa.
This story introduces children to the idea that by keeping the number of squares the same, the area of the rectangle will stay the same - but by rearranging the squares, it is possible to change the shape of the rectangle to make it longer and thinner. Children could explore this idea by making their own 'quilts' out of squares of paper and seeing if they can cover up toys or objects of different shapes. This book also links nicely to the concept of arrays - at the beginning, the quilt is four by six squares, and children can use their knowledge of multiplication to suggest other rectangles that would have an area of 24 squares.
Older children can explore all of the possible lengths and widths of a quilt with a larger area such as 96 squares, by finding all of the factors. Children can also investigate what happens when we turn a quilt diagonally, as the children do at the beginning of the story - does that increase the length? Does turning a square quilt diagonally make more of a difference than turning a long and thin quilt diagonally? This activity could lead nicely into an introduction to Pythagoras' theorem.
This book is out of print now, but you can find recordings of it being read on YouTube.