Patterned Christmas Card Math Lesson Plan November 29 2010

Here is a fun Christmas card project that helps kids use and review concepts involving patterning, multiplication and measurement. Plus, there are various ways to use the cards your kids create!

I got this lesson plan idea when I was reading Quilting: Activities for Young Learners. Not a sewer myself,  I was relieved to discover that all of the included projects are fairly easy and "no-sew."

The original lesson plan calls for recycled patterned business envelopes, but I think using holiday wrapping paper gives this project a festive feel.


The materials for this project are easy to find, but may take some preparation based on your preferences.

  • 8 1/2" x 11" or smaller pieces of construction paper - a 3" x 3" square needs to fit on the front of the finished greeting card.
  • a variety of holiday wrapping paper scraps, cut into 1" squares (this would be a great job for a parent volunteer)
  • basic liquid glue or glue sticks
  • scissors
  • media to add color, like markers, watercolor paints, and oil pastels

Making Christmas Cards

  1. Explain that the quilt pattern for the front of the card is called "nine-patch," which is basically a 3"x3" array - this is a helpful review of multiplication theory as well as patterns.
  2. Have students fold their construction paper in half and explain that these are the greeting cards for them to decorate.
  3. To make the "nine-patch" pattern, each student will need a 3" x 3" square on the front of each card. You can choose to have your students use rulers to measure out these squares on the front of each card. If you teach younger children, have a few 3" x 3" square patterns at every table for children to trace on the fronts of their cards.
  4. The 1" squares will be the most time-consuming part of the project. If your students are able, you may want to have them cut their own 1" paper squares from scraps of wrapping paper and coordinating colors of construction paper.
  5. Once your students have chosen nine 1" squares, they need to arrange the squares in a fun pattern on their greeting cards and glue down. As an extension, show your class how they can make two triangles from one square and have them use these to create a more intricate pattern.
  6. Once the squares are glued down in a festive pattern, students can decorate the remaining parts of the cards, including a greeting inside.

Using Creative Cards

This project would be great to use as a Christmas card, but this pattern can be used for a variety of holidays depending on what is used to make the "nine-patch" pattern. Another way to use these cards is to group them in packages of 6 and sell them as part of a fundraiser. Share the idea with your colleagues and your school's parent group to get more kids involved, using the cards to raise funds for an important project or improvement.

These cards can also be used to teach kids about the world. Use your network around the country and the globe to exchange Christmas cards with students in your class. Another option is to sign up with something like The Holiday Card Exchange Project in order to trade cards with other children living in different areas of the world. Hang a world map to place received cards, learning about different countries and cultures as the cards arrive!