Giant Pattern Blocks - Teaching Math to Tots with Movement

 I love pattern blocks!  The little wooden ones that you can make pictures with, sort by color and shape, teach patterning, symmetry, fractions and more.  In fact, I think with just this one manipulative, I would be able to teach most of the kindergarten and first grade math curriculum.  They are versatile, easy to use, take up a small space, and are fun to use!  My tot, however, is not quite ready to manipulate these tiny pieces of wood with ease and they won't help him be active.  When I saw this post, I was immediately inspired to create a giant version of pattern blocks that would be affordable, easy to use, and not take up a bunch of space. I'm not sure really how my brain took the concept of sensory steps to giant pattern blocks, but it did. =)
This set was made with craft felt from the bolts at the fabric store.  I cut the cost down by using 40% off coupons. The first thing I did was make an equilateral triangle.  Using this pattern, I cut green triangles.  Then, I put 2 green triangles together to make the pattern for the blue diamond.  I put 3 green triangles together to make a pattern for the trapezoid.  I put 2 trapezoids together to make the pattern for the yellow hexagon. I then made orange squares.
We spent 2 days just playing with the giant pattern blocks and exploring how they went together.  The kids built pictures and flung them around the room in undirected play.  In my years of teaching, I have realized that kids must have an opportunity to interact with the materials and explore how they work and move before teacher (or parent) directed instruction can occur effectively.
My five year old got the connection between the giant pattern blocks and the smaller wooden ones immediately.  I will be working on different math concepts with her using these pattern blocks that are better suited to challenge a grade schooler (more on that later!).
With my tot - I wanted to start out by using them to teach colors, shapes, and simple patterning through movement.  First, we built a bunch of AB patterns like the one pictured below.  AB patterns are the simplest to copy, extend, and make.  This one can be read, "red, blue, red, blue, red, blue," or "diamond, trapezoid, diamond, trapezoid," (or in your second language - if you are teaching your child one.)  We would build them together and I would have him run from the pile of shapes to the end of the pattern.
Then, when our patterns were built, we would hop, skip, or run on them while saying the colors or shapes.  After a couple days of this, we started to get fancy!
We started handing out challenges to special shapes.  The yellow hexagon has been assigned the task to "lay down" if you step on it.  Now this makes for a TON of movement and laughter while learning the basic math concepts.  For some reason, this task has lasted all week and now I can just set the hexagon on the floor and both kids lay on it (me too!).  I am sure if anyone saw us, they would be laughing too!
So, for less than $10, a trip to the fabric store, and a little effort, you too could be learning  and moving with these giant felt pattern blocks! 
Happy Learning!!!

PS - you can buy Giant Foam Pattern Blocks from several stores online, but they are not as easy to walk on, take up more space, are more expensive, and you cannot fold them =) 

20 comments:

  1. Great idea! Your tot looks really happy with them!

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  2. Thanks =) I look forward to the day when mine are both interested in tangram puzzles! Loved your last post! http://learningwithmouse.blogspot.com/2012/01/tangram-master.html

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  3. Wow, fantastic idea!! I'm glad my post was inspiring...now I'm inspired, in turn. Thanks! :)

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  4. That is really cool! Large sizes always make everything better! Thanks for mentioning your blog! Great ideas on our blog!

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  5. Thank you so much =) We had a blast making, playing, and learning with these. Hoping to post more about how I am using them with my kindergartener this weekend!

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  6. That is awesome idea for pattern blocks! I am so glad I found it and You’re your newest follower!
    Come see me too!
    ~jeannie~
    ­ Kindergarten Lifestyle

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  7. That is an awesome idea- will have to do sometime! Thank you for sharing your ideas with us on The Sunday Showcase

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  8. The possibilities are endless with these large sized shapes. I love that they are so easy to make and cost is so low.

    Veronica

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  9. You are my hero today! This is awesome on so many levels (especially the cinch-to-clean-up-and-store one!). I am doing this asap, for sure.

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  10. You are all so sweet =) Hope you are able to make this with your children or classrooms! If you do, please send me a picture and I will include it in our From Our readers section! http://theeducatorsspinonit.blogspot.com/p/from-our-readers.html

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  11. great idea!! My kids played with those shapes for hours..creating, manipulating etc..a greg fun learning tool..like yours!
    i am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

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  12. I love pattern blocks. I tend to play with them longer than my kids sometimes. I love something about making mandalas and patterns and pictures from shapes. I am totally in love with the bigness of these. A must try. Thanks for linking it to Monday Madness.

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  13. really gorgeous!! we've made these on a much smaller scale but now I want BIG ones too! lol

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  14. Do you know where a good place is to purchase the small wooden version for not an insane price? I love the big take on these and would love to acquire both the large and small versions!

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  15. We love patterns blocks, use them even in our play kitchen:) Would love to make these big ones for Putti

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  16. For get this being for toddlers...I am going to make a set for math tubs in my 1st grade classroom. LoVe It!

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  17. Love the movement ideas! Must go to buy felt today. Can you post the measurements to save time? Jayne
    Smart Kids
    ABCs of Reading

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  18. I would LOVE LOVE the measurements and/or patterns for these!! :)

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