What are pattern blocks?
Pattern blocks are a common manipulative found in most elementary classrooms. They are colored geometric shapes usually made from wood or plastic. Pattern blocks were created in the 1960’s by the Education Development Center. A set of pattern blocks typically consists of six different shapes in six different colors. This includes a yellow hexagon, red trapezoid, green equilateral triangle, blue rhombus, orange square, and thin beige rhombus. Except for the trapezoid, the lengths of all sides of each shape are the same.
Why should I use pattern blocks?
Pattern blocks are excellent manipulatives to use during math instruction. They are versatile, easy to use, and fun to work with. They offer a hands-on way to explore numerous math topics with a variety of age groups. In the primary grades, pattern blocks can be used to count, sort, and make patterns as well as learn about shapes, symmetry, congruence, and area. In the upper elementary grades, pattern blocks can be used to learn about fractions, graphing, and geometry.
Pattern blocks encourage creativity, and kids naturally gravitate toward them. If you leave a bucket of pattern blocks on the floor without direction, you will quickly see children exploring with them. Students will start creating patterns and designs on their own.
Pattern blocks are great for students to use to discover the relationship between shapes. Children quickly realize how the pieces fit together like a puzzle, and how their sizes are fractionally related to each other. Three green triangles can cover one red trapezoid showing that each triangle is one third the size of the trapezoid. In turn two red trapezoids will cover the yellow hexagon showing that the red trapezoid is one half the size of the hexagon.