Pattern Block Activities
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Pattern blocks fit together to make intriguing and beautiful patterns, and theyhelp children learn math in a multitude of ways. Here are classroom activities ofall levels--plus homework assignments that extend learning and bring parents intothe loop. (The last problem may even challenge you!)
Scoop and Sort (K-2)
Have children take a two-handed scoop of pattern blocks,sort them by shape, and place matching shapes in separate columns on18-by-24-inch newsprint. It helps to draw a grid.
Ask students to trace and color the blocks, or pasteconstruction paper shapes onto the grid. Post one of the children's graphs andhave children talk about what they notice. Over several days, repeat for all ofthe children's graphs.
Homework: In class have students write three sentences abouttheir graph. Send home their graphs and ask parents to help them write three additional sentences.
Build the Yellow Hexagon (Grades 3-5)
Have students work in groups to find all the differentways to re-create the yellow hexagon using different assortments of blocks.
After they think they've found all the ways, havechildren record them using fractions, with the yellow hexagon assigned the valueof 1. For example, if they build the hexagon with one red trapezoid and threegreen triangles, they'll write: 1/2 + 1/6 + 1/6 + 1/6 = 1. (Show students how toshorten that to 1/2 + 3/6 = 1. )
Homework: Send home the student work with a sampler of patternblocks.
Building Larger Shapes (Grades 4-6)
Ask students to investigate which of the pattern blocksthey can use to build shapes that are larger but similar--such as four or ninesquares to make a larger square. To get children started, ask: Can you use greentriangles to build a larger green triangle that is still the same shape? How manydo you need?
Send the problem home with a sampler of pattern blocks.
A Challenge (Grades 6 AND UP)
You can easily compare the areas of some shapes of pattern blocks. The redtrapezoid, for example, is half the area of the yellow hexagon and three times aslarge as the green triangle. How do the areas of the orange square and tan parallelogram compare?
Try this yourself! If you get stuck, click on The Solution to Marilyn Burns' Pattern Block Puzzler