Creating designs with pattern blocks — those multicolored trapezoids, hexagons, and triangles that are a mainstay in many preschool classrooms — is a great way for children to build their geometric thinking and spatial skills. Our Pattern Block Puzzle games help children explore shapes, shape rotations, 2-D composition and decomposition, and image reflections.
“These activities help children see the world as being made up of shapes and also prepares them for later mathematical ideas. The best part about this activity? It is designed with a wide range of students in mind, from children who are just practicing placing blocks to those who can complete a challenging puzzle on their own.”
You can download your own set of pattern block puzzles and the directions for fun pattern block games using the links below!
WHAT’S THE MATH?
DIRECTIONS FOR GAMES AT SCHOOL
DIRECTIONS FOR GAMES AT HOME
VIDEO ABOUT COMPOSING GEOMETRIC SHAPES
GAME MATERIALS AND PATTERN BLOCK PUZZLE PRINTABLES
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT: PRESCHOOL MATH LOOK FOR’S
SUGGESTED BOOKS TO READ
Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh
In this book, mice hide from a cat in a pile of shapes. The mice have lots of fun constructing with the shapes, but then the cat finds them! The mice use the shapes to build “three big scary mice” to scare the cat away — and it works! After reading this book, children could use scissors and paper to cut out shapes and build their own designs. This is a great way to get children thinking about how geometric shapes fit together to make pictures.
Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert
This unique book has artful cutouts and overlaid pages that use shapes — rectangles, squares, circles, triangles, ovals, and more — to create animal faces. These bright, colorful designs will keep children coming back again and again. For an additional activity, have children glue together different shape cutouts to make design creations of their own!
Bear in a Square, Oso en un cuadrado by Stella Blackstone
Shapes, counting, and rhyming in both Spanish and English — this book has it all! On each page of this book, a bear is looking for a different shape: squares, hearts, circles, rectangles, triangles, rhombuses, zigzags, ovals, and stars. The bear needs to find a particular number (1-10) of each shape and the total number of shapes on the page are shown on the sidebar. This book’s fun and simple rhyming text is written in both English and Spanish so children can learn shape names in both languages!
What is Square? by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
This is a great, basic book that can inspire children to go on their own shape hunt or to make a collection of objects that are all square!
Shapes (Math Counts) by Henry Pluckrose
This is a great book to get children thinking about the shapes that they see in the world around them. The first few pages ask children to run their finger along the edges of a square, circle, rectangle, hexagon, and triangle. Then there is a page showing three different squares and another page showing five different triangles. The book asks children to look at how the shapes are similar and different. The next part of the book is great for talking about going on a shape hunt! There are photographs for children to find rectangles, squares, triangles, and circles in the real world — even hexagons in a honeycomb! On page 16, the author introduces the word tessellation to describe shapes that fit together without leaving any spaces. Although this word is probably new to children, it is a concept that they have experienced when building with blocks or making designs with pattern blocks.
For an additional activity, go on a shape hunt in your classroom, your bedroom, and outside. Find circles such as clocks, doorknobs, and stools. Find rectangles such as windows, art paper, and photographs. Can you find a triangle in your lunch?
So Many Circles, So Many Squares by Tana Hoban
In this wordless picture book, Tana Hoban displays colorful photographs of images from everyday life with circles and squares. Children will enjoy “hunting” for shapes in the pictures and then going on a shape hunt of their own! Note that some of the “squares” in this book have rounded corners and some of the circles, like onions and grapes, aren’t really circles.