Quiltmaker Spotlight: Ms. Tipton’s 4th Grade Math Class

Erin McKinney Tipton first appeared on the Parkway Playhouse stage in the 2014 performance of The King & I and will appear again this summer in the musical production All Shook Up. So, it’s not surprising she wanted to participate in the community quilt. However, when she saw the call for quilt blocks, she thought about it like the math teacher she is.  She saw it as an opportunity for her 4th graders to take the geometry they’d been learning and apply it in the real world. Here’s a little more about what they did in both her words and theirs.IMG_0958

One of Burnsville Elementary’s 4th grade math classes held a quilting bee of sorts just before Spring Break, which ended with a competition for best quilt block. The competition winner’s design was constructed out of fabric and added to the Parkway Playhouse quilt.

IMG_0686 Each student designed his/her own pattern, or recreated a traditional pattern with 1 inch pattern blocks. They then used their supreme knowledge of our base ­ten number system and 4th grade skills like multiplication, measurement of length and angles, geometry, and fraction/decimal relationships, to create to­-scale pattern block templates to use on their 12.5 inch quilt square.

IMG_0687Once their patterns were made, they chose which fabrics they wanted to use and created their final pattern with construction paper. All quilt squares were displayed in the hallway for everyone to see. Voting was conducted with a tally mark chart and was open to all students, staff, and visitors. The winner of the competition was Sarah Banks’s original design which she named The Sun at Midnight. Coming in a close second place was Evan Bennett’s Bloody Star.IMG_0946

I learned how to make a quilt square in Mrs.Tipton`s class. The math skills that I used were geometry and multiplicative relationships, which means I learned how to use multiplication to make the shapes bigger. At first I could not figure out how to maximize the shapes because it was hard and I could not make it exact. I named my quilt square “Space Time” because it looked like an hourglass in space.


When I did my quilt square I tried to make it as precise as possible. The way I figured out my pattern was just playing around with the pattern blocks. The math around my quilt square was measurement and angels. The hardest part was also my favorite part and that is when I used the protractor. The reason I chose the name Mirror is it is symmetrical both ways. That is a little about my quilt square.

I also put my quilt square into the actual quilt. I cut out all of the pieces myself and then my mom sewed them together. She said that it took lots of anger to get done.


What I liked about our quilt square project was that we had to work together. I had to do a lot of area multiplication to figure out how big I needed my shapes to be. I learned that you need to be patient with not only yourself but with others. I chose the name “The Darkest Hour” because I made my quilt pattern a cross. I admit that I was a little upset that I did not win, but my best friend Sarah did. Although I did not win I had so much fun making my square. I was glad we got to do this project it was a good for the whole class to bond for once. My favorite memory of making our quilt square was that we got to take our time and the whole week of trying to get our square done is my example of time we had. Working together is the main thing that will get you done for every thing in life.


During our quilt square project, I learned how to measure the square to see what size shape I needed. The main math skill I used was measuring. I also used multiplication, and many other things. I chose to call my square “Butterfly”, because the shapes were the same on both sides, like a butterfly’s wings. It was not easy making the shapes I needed, and gluing them down to my square. One of the hardest parts was coming up with my name. Making the quilt squares was very different from regular math class. For me, it wasn’t that fun. It was very hard making the shapes and getting them to line up.  Especially when I had to glue them down. After I finished, there were many squares better than mine, but it was still my favorite.


Thank you, 4th graders and Ms. Tipton! And congratulations to Sarah Banks. We were so pleased to include your quilt block in our community quilt.

Don’t forget, The Quiltmaker runs for another two weekends followed by Annie, Jr.  performed by Parkway Playhouse Junior (which features many performers from Burnsville Elementary). Check out the website parkwayplayhouse.com for more details. $5 raffle tickets to win the queen-sized community quilt may be purchased at the Parkway Playhouse Box Office, Something Special in Burnsville, or Fabrics in the Fray in Spruce Pine.

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CLICK HERE to purchase tickets for The Quiltmaker.


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Parkway Playhouse, located in the Appalachian town of Burnsville, NC, is a haven of theatre talent. While people come to the mountains to get away, Parkway Playhouse is a natural gathering place to connect. Likewise, we are an extension of traditional mountain talents: singing, dancing, and, foremost, storytelling. By giving rise to energetic new voices and through a wide variety of plays and musicals, we invite our audience into experiences that are thought-provoking, adventurous, and entertaining. Together we reimagine the world in every live performance, creating dynamic conversations that last far beyond the curtain call. This blog is will feature stories, helpful information, insight and features about the performances.

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