Monday, June 24, 2024

Unlock the Power of Shapes with Pattern Blocks

Good news: My friend's daughter just got her first teaching job. She'll be a First Grade teacher in just 3 weeks.

Bad news: All her student teaching experience was in Grades 3-5.

Her first question to me: What do I have all the kids do upon arrival when I'm trying to help kids unpack, calm kids down, etc.?


Pattern Block Fun

They are perfect for arrival time because they keep little hands busy while I'm trying to get everyone settled. She knew nothing about them so I thought maybe I'd do a post on them in case someone out there is moving down a few grades and needs the lowdown.

What are Pattern Blocks?

Pattern blocks are a valuable tool for fostering mathematical understanding and spatial reasoning skills in young learners through hands-on, interactive activities in the classroom.

Pattern blocks consist of six different shapes:

  1. Green Triangle
  2. Blue Large Rhombus 
  3. Red Trapezoid
  4. Yellow Hexagon
  5. Orange Square
  6. Tan Smaller Rhombus
Pattern Blocks Shapes

These shapes are typically made of plastic or wood and are designed to fit together in specific ways. However, I have foam ones, too. The foam blocks come in "thin" and "thick" pieces which the kids find fascinating. But if I could only get one type, I'd get the plastic ones for durability and price.

How to Use Pattern Blocks in the Classroom:

Pattern blocks can be used in a variety of activities and lessons to support learning across the curriculum.

  1. Exploring Shapes and Attributes:

    • Begin by allowing students to explore the shapes freely. Make pictures and designs. A perfect first day morning activity! Laster on, you can discuss the attributes of each shape (number of sides, angles, etc.).
    • Sort the blocks based on attributes like color, number of sides, or angles.

2. Pattern Recognition:
    • Introduce students to creating and extending patterns using the blocks. Patterns can be based on shape, color, or both.
    • For example, create an AB pattern (triangle, hexagon, triangle, hexagon) and ask students to continue it. Then move on to more intricate patterns. 

3. Geometry and Spatial Reasoning:

  • Use pattern blocks to teach concepts like symmetry, congruence, and transformations (rotation, reflection).
  • Have students create symmetrical designs using the blocks, or explore how shapes fit together to cover a given area.

4. Fractions:

    • Introduce fractions visually using pattern blocks. For example, show that two small triangles fit into one large triangle, illustrating 1/2.
    • Explore equivalent fractions by combining different shapes to make whole shapes.

5. Problem Solving and Critical Thinking:

  • Pose challenges where students need to figure out how many different ways they can combine blocks to fill a shape or a given space. A hexagon is a great shape to start with.
  • Encourage students to explain their reasoning and strategies for solving problems involving pattern blocks.

6. Integration with Other Subjects:

  • Use pattern blocks in art activities to create geometric designs.
  • Incorporate them into literacy by having students create stories or describe scenes using the blocks.
  • I see some TPT Sellers have products that use pattern blocks to make sight words, letters of the day, etc.  Endless possibilities!

Benefits of Using Pattern Blocks:

  • Hands-on Learning: Manipulating physical objects helps reinforce abstract concepts.
  • Visual and Spatial Understanding: Enhances understanding of shapes, geometry, and spatial relationships.
  • High Engagement: Students are often motivated by the colorful and tactile nature of pattern blocks. My students are always excited to see the pattern blocks and get to exploring them.
  • Differentiation: Activities can be easily adapted to challenge different levels of learners.

I added some Pattern Block Picture Puzzles to my store. All on sale for just $2 each through the end of the month. A great time to grab them!  Showing the bundle here which I'm going to put on sale for $7 until June 30th too.  A great deal!

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