Ready-To-Use Teaching Ideas: Math/Block Play
- About 12 square unit blocks
Objective: Children will use creative-thinking, patterning, visual-spatial, and fine-motor skills to explore the different shapes that can be made with a few squares.
In Advance: Talk with children about the different shapes they are familiar with. Ask: What kinds of things are in the shape of a square? Rectangle? Triangle? Circle? Star? Show children objects of different shapes. Encourage children to explore the shapes and then discuss how they are alike and how they are different. Bring a collection of blocks of different shapes to group time. Invite children to explore the blocks and identify other items that have the same shape.
- Take your blocks outdoors to a flat area. Work with one or two children and arrange six to eight blocks in a rectangle in front of each child.
- Now invite them to play a game with you. Ask children how they might be able to rearrange the blocks without lifting them off the floor.
- Help children discover that they can do this by sliding. Then encourage them to slide the blocks around to create new shapes. You might need to help them get started by asking open-ended questions such as, "Can you make a long shape?" or "Which block do you want to move first?"
- When children have rearranged the blocks, invite them to tell you about their new shapes. They might answer, for example, "This shape is long and skinny," or, "This is a train." Accept all descriptions.
For younger children: Allow children to create their own imaginative block structures and construct in the great outdoors!
For older children: Encourage children to invent additional shapes. Observe as they create. Invite children to describe their shapes and discuss their ideas with you and with one another.
SPIN OFF: As a variation, place the blocks on their narrower edges, rather than flat on the ground. You might also play this game using square-shaped hollow blocks. Invite children to work together to arrange these heavier blocks into new shapes.
REMEMBER: Keep this activity fun and relaxed, and play only as long as children remain interested.
Threes who are interested in counting might want to know exactly how many shapes they're making. Support them by keeping a tally sheet as they work.
Threes need many, many opportunities to explore freely with blocks. This activity should be a supplement to lots of ongoing, open-ended block play in your room.
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