Students will use pattern blocks to identify and label shapes.
- A Cloak For The Dreamer, by Aileen Friedman; ISBN 978-0590489874
Background for Teachers
The new Utah Math Curriculum follows the Focal Points
from NCTM. Standard III indicates that children will compose
and decompose plane and solid figures. This process builds an
understanding of part-whole relationships as well as the properties
of the original and composite shapes. As they combine figures, they
recognize them from different perspectives, describe their attributes
and properties and determine how they are alike and different. Pattern
blocks can help achieve these objectives. When teaching the names
of the pattern blocks point out that the smaller tan parallelogram is
also called a rhombus and that the larger blue rhombus is also called a
parallelogram. A short description of the pattern blocks is referenced in
the Additional Resources section.
Intended Learning Outcomes
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
Invitation to Learn
Distribute a baggie to each student filled with standard pattern
blocks. Include one each of the following shapes: triangle, hexagon,
small rhombus, large rhombus (parallelogram), square, and trapezoid.
Invite the students to discuss the similarities and differences between
the shapes. Invite them to count how many sides each shape has and
compare the shapes that have the same number of sides to determine
how they are different. Next, hand out the worksheet What's My Shape?
Ask the students to draw a line from the column of shape pictures to
the column of shape names to correctly identify each shape. Students
could also cut out pictures of shapes from magazines and glue next
to the appropriate words. Proceed to display vocabulary cards and
pictures of the six pattern blocks.
Vocabulary Journal -- Pattern Blocks
- Using the Vocabulary Journal Template, copy and compile
journals for each of your students.
- Distribute the Vocabulary Journals and ask the students to write the name of each shape on the line as the term is introduced.
- Describe each term using an example, giving an explanation of
the word, or a description of the word.
- Invite students to explain each term using their own words and
write it on the lines provided in the journal.
- Next, students will draw a picture representing the term in their
Pattern Blocks Activity Cards
The cards are designed with four levels ranging from simple to
more difficult. Start with the Level I cards in your Math Center.
- Level I -- The designs show the shapes and colors of the
standard pattern blocks used to make them. The children need
to find the blocks that match the colors and shapes on the card
and place them on top of the illustration. (Cards 1-2)
- Level II -- The colors of the pattern blocks are not shown.
Students must find and match the blocks by shape alone. (Cards
- Level III -- Only the outline of the design is shown, so the
students must figure out which blocks fit together within the outline to create the design. (These designs are open-ended, in
that there is more than one way to complete each design. (Cards
- Level IV -- These cards address the concept of symmetry. One
half of the design shows the individual shapes in color, and the
other half shows a symmetrical outline only. The students must
figure out how to create a design that is the mirror image of the
one they see. (Cards 7-8)
- Distribute pattern block stamps and stamp pads for use in a
- Provide white paper for the students to stamp their patterns,
designs, or pictures.
- Encourage the students to combine shapes to create other
- Copy one of the Level II cards and invite children to color the
design using the corresponding color for each of the standard
- Students can count and graph how many individual blocks they
used for each activity card.
- Help children understand patterns and designs by having them
create or extend their own designs.
- Make copies of the Level I to III cards and ask students to fold
the design on the line of symmetry. Hold the paper up to a light
to check for alignment.
- Use an unframed mirror to check for symmetry. Hold the mirror
on the assumed line of symmetry to determine if the reflected
side is symmetrical.
- Distribute paper copies of the standard pattern blocks (Pattern
Blocks templates included in this activity) for students to use at
home to create their own designs.
- Provide the website URLs, listed for this activity, for parents to
access the Internet.
- The Vocabulary Journal is a good way to check for
understanding of the new academic vocabulary that is
introduced. (Note that the First Grade Math Core does not hold
students accountable for all of the vocabulary introduced in this
activity.) Copy one of the Level II cards and invite children to
color the design using the corresponding color for each of the
standard pattern blocks.
- Observation of students completing the Pattern Blocks Activity
Cards provides an opportunity to assess students' understanding
of simple geometric figures.
- Use What's My Shape? worksheet as a pre or post assessment.
Marzano, R. J., (2004). Building background knowledge for academic achievement: Research
on what works in schools. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum
Development. Retrieved March 9, 2007, from http://www.ascd.org.
This article stresses the importance of academic vocabulary to
enhance students' abilities to read and understand subject matter
content and help students increase background knowledge that raises
their academic achievement.
Scheibelhut, C., (December 1994) I do and I understand, I reflect and I improve (Writing in mathematics education). Teaching Children Mathematics. Retrieved
November 18, 2006 from http://www.questia.com.
This research describes the importance of writing in mathematics.
The author states that by forcing a slowdown in the thought process,
writing enables the mind to clarify ideas and integrate new knowledge.
Each child is actively involved in reflecting on what they have been