In my college days, my math teacher gave us a task to create our own fraction pieces using felt. In conjunction with this, we also were solving equal-sharing problems with fractions, as well as other word problems involving various operations within a real-life context. As an adult, these types of problems were a real struggle for me because I didn't learn fractions through word problems and I always rushed to a solution with numbers while idiosyncratically mixing up procedures that were not even reasonable. Ugh! I even had to retake a previous math course for this very same reason. I literally could not explain why something made sense and just continually asked my teacher for the next step. I was a broken record stuck on the same sound, "Just tell me what to do next." I now realize that I deeply lacked conceptual understanding of mathematics.
I remember initially thinking the felt fraction assignment was a little weird and frustrating. However, I had come to learn a few things that helped me understand the word problems. Certain fractions were difficult to make and some were fairly easy. You could actually use the easy fractions to help make other fractions. For example, if you cut the halves in half, you now have fourths. Duh, right? Well, it was this experience of creating fractions (ME creating them) that helped me understand how to use the "felt model" to solve the real-world context problems. It became much easier for me to draw fractions to represent my solutions, and therefore, I could look back and use numbers to explain what I did.
These memories, both good and bad, burned an impression in my mind. It led to me create this fractional quilt as a symbol of my learning and beliefs to help give confidence to all people out there who feel or ever felt bad at math. The truth is, we can all learn and be successful at math when given the opportunity!
The quilt fabric was chosen to mimic the felt fractions I created, but to also resemble the wild assortment of colors found in a fraction tile set. I believe it is better for students to create their own fractions than to be handed plastic pieces that are pre-partioned. Once students create and understand fractional parts, then these fraction tiles can become a great tool for thinking. The problem is that many times students are imposed and forced into using models they don't understand. This often happens with fraction tiles and other models that we think are supposed to be helpful.
Additionally, this quilt is interactive! Look at all the ways I can fold it to prove and check equivalent fractions.
I'll leave you with more photos...