Friday, July 19, 2013

Pattern Blocks Activities and Geometry for Kids

A really fun book I use to kick off teaching geometry and 2D and 3D shapes to kids is called "The Greedy Triange" by none other than Marilyn Burns. I've seen her at teacher conferences before. I could listen to her speak for hours. She is truly a master math teacher. Since lots of teachers do patterns at the beginning of the year, I thought I'd share some of my Geometry lessons
I use this book to teach that globes are spheres and anything ball shaped is also a sphere.

Beginnings of a simple anchor chart for geometry units. 

Then I would use chart paper to do an anchor paper on what defines the names of the shapes.  Have the kids help you count sides and if you are in 2nd grade, vertices. Make a chart similar to the one above with sides (edges) and points (vertices) counted too.  A fun bunch of activity math pages you could do together is HERE at EZschool. It's a fantastic website!

2D shapes poster - and I would add "quadrilateral" to the square and rectangle words.
This is a great anchor chart I saw on Pinterest from CSISDMath.  They have lots of others. 

Then we talk about the difference between 2D Plane Shapes and 3D or Solid Shapes. Kids seem to understand that 2D or  plane shapes are flat and 3D or solid shapes are puffed out or thick and have width.

This would be a fun game to make up using popsicle sticks and velcro on the edges. Kids could go from triangles all the way up to octagons using this game strategy. It would make a great center game too. And the vocabulary development would also be great! I have a set of colorful popsicle sticks and now I know what to do with them!! Thanks to for the great idea.

 I love this octagon puzzle made from triangles! And here are some pattern blocks in different themes that are MAGNETIC!  I just bought a set for one of my granddaughters whose birthday is this month. She is turning 5. Even though my students are older, they still love magnetic pattern blocks too.

My first grade students LOVE magnetic pattern blocks especially at the beginning of the year. I bought a bunch of black burner covers and the kids make shapes on these individual square burner covers. Then it makes a great center to use all week.

I have about a 1/2 class set of each set of geometry blocks; pattern blocks, pentominoes and tangrams. I pass out a bin or baggies of each to several tables.  Each block type has several kinds of activities to choose from so each table won't get bored. The the kids can move to a different table when they are tired of one type of shape/activity, or if you need more structure just ring a bell and all 5 kids move to a new table in a kind of round robin.

 A fun printable  pentominoes activity you can use is here at from Murray
An online game is another fun idea to use on the classroom computers during this time and can be found here at Some cute vocabulary cards for Geometrical shapes are a FREE Download HERE at Teachers Pay Teachers from Mrs. Patton at Mrs. Patton's Patch.

We do the pattern block snowflakes on a snowy inside day. 

Pattern Block Snowflake Art is a really fun activity to do in the wintertime if you have time in January or February. I just punch out lots and lots of WHITE pattern block shapes on the Ellison die cuts at our school in white construction paper. Then I give everybody a white hexagon and a 10 inch blue piece of construction paper. They have to make a 6 sided snowflake.
HERE is a cute geometry poem from Little Country Kinder.

There are always lots of interesting designs. You can talk about symmetry and give examples of what it would look like. You can label the shapes on the back having kids glue each type of shape they used and define it by how many edges and vertices or sides and "points" depending on what grade you are in. It is a good math vocabulary lesson.

This website had a cute picture of what they look like when they are done. Check out Kidscount 1234

I might try her idea this year and do Pattern Block turkeys! What fun is that! The key is always start with the hexagon shape in the middle.

Another freebie is from Mrs. Patton's Patch and it is 2D Geometry Vocabulary Cards at Teachers Pay Teachers but it's FREE! Download it now!

This website had a cute picture to give you an idea of how many different colorful designs the kids can come up with. Check it out at Focus on Math.

This is a really cute art idea. I've done this on black paper cut into a perfect square and pattern block stickers. The kids start with a hexagon shape in the middle (yellow pattern block hexagon). The only rule is to make the shape symmetrical. It is hard for kids to do perfectly. They may get a few "arms" of the hexagon done the same but will make a change on one of the arms and it is no longer symmetrical.

Octagon Puzzle (sm)

Then we look at each other's designs and number them 1 through 25 or however many students you have. They have to write IS IT SYMMETRICAL? at the top of their papers. I will number all the projects. Then they write yes or no on each one. I give them about 10 minutes. Then we go over each one and they have to argue and debate if it is or not. They learn how to look for symmetry.
Here is another idea for art using pattern blocks; THE MITTEN story, and then make patterned mittens! Idea is from Mrsleeskinderkids blog. It is a totally cute blog with lots of great ideas. You can always tell teachers who have been teaching a long time and who still love it. She is one of them.

Since we are usually doing this in winter time I have kids do a writing project on either of two themes; one is Snowglobe stories, using the THE SNOWGLOBE FAMILY by: O'Connor (check it out below) or the other is Making a Geometry Book. The pages in it go like this....."I once was a _________ but now I'm a _________. Fill in with circle to sphere, or triange to pyramid, or square to cube. Then they draw a picture of something in real life and write one sentence to describe how it is used or where they would find it. Example: I once was a square but now I'm a cube of ice in a cold glass of Coke. Then they draw a glass with cubed ice inside. It's a lot of fun. Each child does 5 to 7 pages and it takes a week of writing time. But it's great integration of math and writing.

Here is a link to what we did with this book check it out! 
We made snowglobes and snowglobe stories...they were super cute!
When the snowglobes (teach them a sphere is a globe) art is done spray it with glitter so it looks like snow. It comes in 3 colors.

Here is a Cute Shape Youtube you could show your kids. It is a fast and cute way to introduce the shape vocabulary for younger kids. I like that it had all the hexagon and octagon and parallelogram and rhombus some of those that other programs skip. Have fun with Geometry and Pattern Blocks!

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