Say what?! Melissa and Doug make pattern block toys?! Of course the lead manufacturer of educational toys would make something appropriate for the pre-school generation and I thank them for it!
What are pattern blocks? Pattern blocks are a type of manipulative made up of different shapes (triangle, trapezoid, hexagon, square, parallelogram, and rhombus). As the name implies, they are a great tool for exploring patterns, but they are beneficial for so many more reasons as well!
“ Using pattern blocks … helps students “see” mathematical patterns and differences and develop abstract mathematical strategies.” D. Rigdon, J. Raleigh, S. Goodman
For Oliver, pattern blocks help him develop fine motor control as well as reinforce his knowledge of shapes and colours. For Rory, the same learning applies, but I can also introduce a level of problem-solving while he’s playing with the patterns. There are 10 key strategies for problem-solving and pattern blocks can be used to develop at least 7 of them:
- Guess and check
- Look for a pattern
- Use logical thinking
- Draw pictures
- Make a list
- Make a table
Pattern blocks also encourage the investigation of relationships among shapes (how many ways can you cover the hexagon using different pattern blocks?); they introduce children to fractional relationships (how many triangles do you need to make a parallelogram?); and are perfect for discovering algebraic reasoning (2 trapezoids = 1 hexagon).
Young children are naturally drawn to patterns: seeing them, creating them, playing with them. So why not introduce your kids to this fun tool that they will be using often in their elementary years?
Here is a link to the set we used: Melissa and Doug Pattern Blocks