How to Use Pattern Blocks in your Upper Elementary Classroom!

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If you walk into a lower grades classroom during math workshop, you'll be sure to see lots of manipulatives!  Pattern blocks are a favorite for many primary math teachers, but don't discount using them during math workshop in upper grades.  Here are  2 of my favorite ways I used pattern blocks in my 3rd and 4th grade classrooms beyond symmetry and fractions:


1.  Geometry:  Angles

  • Give your students the opportunity to explore making obtuse, acute, and right angles using pattern blocks!  
  • Can they find their measurements?  OF COURSE!  If your students are familiar with using a protractor, use them to find the measurements of each angle.  With my 4th graders, we'd previously discovered/discussed the sum of all angles on a triangle equals 180 degrees.  During a pattern block angle lesson, they identified that the green triangle was equilateral, and were able to use that knowledge to discover the measurement of each must be equal to 60 degrees.  With this understanding, finding the total for each of the other pattern blocks was just a math equation away!   

2.  Building Equations

  • Use pattern blocks as variables as students solve for unknowns.  Try giving students a certain number, say 24, and have them come up with equations with different operations that would equate to 24 using pattern blocks as the variables.   
  •  They can also be used in balanced equations, using multiple variables.  (See examples: square x hexagon = 19 + square  AND 2 trapezoids and a hexagon = 44)  These problems can be open-ended, and would require students to explain their response.  
How do you use pattern blocks in your classroom?

Pattern blocks are quite versatile!  I'd love to hear how you've incorporated them into your math workshop and small group time!  

If you're interested in using them for algebraic thinking with money, check out this Creative Thinking Pattern Block Monsters Set!  Each pattern block is given a certain value, and students create monster faces and determine their combined value.  **Click Here to learn more!**
               

Until Next Time....

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by Spivey Sparks

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