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.
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.
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 =)