When my boys were little pattern blocks were one of my favorite tools to use with them – both for our laid back math lessons and for creative play! There are so many pattern block designs available to buy or print for free and they enjoyed following the patterns or building their own pattern block ideas. We did not start “formal” math until fourth grade (which was this year!) Prior to, math was approached through games, conversation, and everyday life experiences. It has worked very well for us, but we are still in the trenches so the long term results are yet to be known – but I will say this; don’t be afraid of doing different. Read about other cultures educational approaches and goals and results. Read about child development. Know your children. And do what works for you.
Our end goal is that our children enjoy learning and continually seek to learn, and so we feed that now through the ways that make sense to us; firm habits that will regulate their lives, an abundance of excellent stories, hands on opportunities, and an enjoyment of the learning process. I am not really a “latest and greatest” type of person – I like to find what works best for the learning styles in our home and stick with it, with continual reexamination of its usefulness.
Pattern blocks have stood the long test of time in our home. It has transcended the pre-reading level child to my novel consuming level child; any math tool that can hold the interest of children through that huge mental leap is a worthy investment in my estimation.
This past year we finally parted with our beloved pattern blocks, but we got a solid 5 years worth of use out of them!
I was immensely impressed with how they have maintained their fun and educational value with the boys. They are definitely a math tool I would recommend families starting out purchasing.
We started out with this set of pattern blocks and these pattern block cards and have added to our collection over the years. Of course different children with different temperaments will respond to this math activity differently than my own, but this has been such a huge hit in our family and so worth investing in. The original pattern block cards are still being used, but with additional challenges.
Buying (or printing) colored pattern block cards is so important, in my opinion, for young children. They are attractive, inviting, and less complicated than their black and white counterparts. For older children the attractiveness factor is important. We are all drawn to beautiful things, and as much as possible should surround ourselves with them in our learning environments.
Pattern Block Resources
Some of the best free pattern block printables I have seen are here. She has an amazing assortment. If you print your own laminate them to ensure they last!
We started out with this set of pattern blocks and they were great. Additional ones were purchased from second hand sources.
Pattern Block Ideas Beyond Kindie
There are many places to find free printable pattern block patterns and ideas online for kids – however it is not so easy to find activities for kids much beyond kindergarten level. Once you have a couple of ideas though it is really easy to keep the ball rolling – the child is likely to have their own ideas, and things will naturally fall into place to keep things challenging, fun and exploratory.
My favorite activity for the older child using pattern blocks is to assign each pattern block shape a dollar amount (the child can do this – simply trace the shape onto a blank sheet of paper and write down the assigned dollar value.)
**also note, you can make it more complicated by using obscure amounts, like 17 cents, or 32 cents, etc. You know your children and their abilities best!
Once each shape has been assigned a money amount, choose three pattern card shapes – three animals, three modes of transportation, three things that fly, etc. Fill in the pattern block card, then add up the dollar values based on the shapes used. Find which is “worth” the most money.
Some other fun (and free) activities:
These Suduko puzzles are challenging enough for an older child and provide a lot of fun for those who enjoy problem solving.
Graphing with pattern blocks.
Simple fractions with pattern blocks.
And to purchase, you can get many different pattern block activity books. Make sure to note the grade level to ensure you’re getting what you want – like this one here covers a broad range from kindergarten through fifth grade. It is very similar to the (out of print) one I used.