Magnetic quilting shapes combines shape concepts and fine motor skills. It is a fun and inviting math activity that allows preschoolers to solve puzzles and express their creativity at the same time.
Magnetic quilting shapes quickly became a favorite math activity of Corinne’s. I happen to love it because it makes a great busy bag or quiet time activity. With these magnetic shapes, Corinne can create her own quilting designs and patterns. She loves art projects, and in some ways this math activity is an art project. But it can also be a puzzle. Corinne can choose between creating her own design, or filling in a puzzle sheet…the same one in a few different ways.
This idea actually came to me one afternoon about a year ago when I was organizing a box of fabric scraps. Corinne loves to sift through my scraps and play with them. At this time, she was layering them and matching different patterns together. She matched edges and corners, making her own design, and she began to pretend she was making a quilt much like the one draped over the back of the rocking chair in Kent’s room. I thought to myself how much she would enjoy fabric shapes to play with where she could make them into pretty designs. While I didn’t make fabric shapes, I chose magnetic shapes instead. As expected, she loves this simple, yet very open ended math activity.
Materials needed for magnetic quilting shapes
- magnetic sheets (with adhesive on one side)
- coordinating scrapbook paper
- card stock cut to size of magnetic sheets
- permanent marker
- sharp scissors
To make the magnetic quilting shapes
Begin by covering the adhesive side of each sheet with colorful scrapbook paper. Do this for however many magnetic sheets, or puzzles, you plan to make. I made two magnetic sheets for each pattern of scrapbook paper.
On the backside of the magnetic sheets, use a permanent marker to draw the shape puzzle. Repeat the same puzzle on a sheet of card stock. For this, I also cut two of the same pattern of the magnets as I did the card stock puzzles.
When all of the puzzles and magnets have been drawn out, cut the magnet shapes out. DO NOT cut the card stock puzzle. Once finished cutting out all the magnets, place on a magnetic cookie sheet.
Invite your child to the quilting shapes math activity
All of the prep wok has been completed. Now, invite your child to come and explore the quilting shapes.
Initially, Corinne just played with the quilting shapes by moving them around the tray. She made several of her own designs before I gave her the puzzles. (The feature photo was one of Corinne’s pretty designs). I placed on her tray a card stock puzzle and she quickly began to fill it in, being very careful to match the correct pieces with the shapes drawn on the puzzle.
Most of the puzzles Corinne filled in with any matching magnetic shape, regardless of the scrapbook pattern. After some time, I challenged her to fill in the puzzle with all one pattern. (Because I had made two magnetic patterns per card stock puzzle, that allowed for lots of extra shapes, so there would be plenty of one pattern of shapes to fill in any card stock puzzle.
This math activity kept Corinne busy for the better part of an hour, and then she asked for it again the next day, and the following day as well! My favorite part about this activity is how it combines art with math. It could fit in well to any STEAM curriculum!
If you are looking for more STEAM ideas, try out some of these books! I highly recommend each one of them!
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.