Pattern blocks are wonderful way to help children learn shape recognition and how shapes fit together. Create fun, hands-on activities from printed pattern block patterns. Students can use pattern blocks to create animals. Pattern block shapes can also be used to create interesting pattern puzzles for children to complete. For older children, help them use a computer program to create their own patterns.
According to the Pre Kinders website, making animals from pattern blocks can be a fun activity for young children. Often, pattern block books or tangram puzzle books contain animal puzzles. Tangrams are ancient Chinese puzzles made up of seven shapes that can be combined to make pictures. Generally, two types of tangram puzzle outlines are available. Some tangram puzzle pieces feature only the outlines of the shapes. Others are colored in, making it easier for young children to select the pattern block piece that matches correctly. Make copies of the animal patterns on regular 8-1/2 by 11 inch paper. Use clear contact paper to laminate the pattern mats. The animal patterns can be used multiple times because the contact paper helps protect them from wet or dirty surfaces. Give each student, or a small group of students, an animal to work on. Their challenge is to select the pattern block piece that fits the shapes outlined on the puzzle mat.
The Kelly’s Kindergarten website features a twist on making pictures with pattern blocks. Instead of using the pieces to create animals or other shape puzzles, consider using pattern blocks to teach students about patterns. Create puzzle mats on the computer that include shapes in the pattern block set. For example, create a document containing a triangle, circle, square, triangle and a circle. Create several of these mats using AB, ABA or ABBA patterns. Laminate the mats and pass them out to students. Give each student a pattern mat and a set of pattern block pieces. Ask them to choose the pieces that continue or finish the pattern on the mat in front of them. This will not only help students learn about shapes, but will also help them understand how patterns function.
Pattern puzzles and animal picture mats are not likely to keep older elementary school students occupied for long. Upgrade the pattern puzzle games for older students by having them use a computer to create their own designs, advises the Teacher Vision website. Common word processing programs, like Microsoft Word, feature basic drawing tools and shapes menus. Help students use the Auto Shapes function and rotating tools to create their own shape puzzles. Have students print out the work and work with younger students to complete the puzzles with the pattern blocks.
- Photo Credit coloured shapes image by Leslie Batchelder from Fotolia.com
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