1. Read Then and Now on Old MacDonald’s Farm by Dr. T. E. Foster. Ask children how they think the illustrator made the animals. What shapes do they see?
2. On the interactive whiteboard, display the Virtual Pattern Block activity. Tap the purple shape in the upper left corner to choose a puzzle. Ask children to suggest which puzzle pieces you should use to fill the puzzle. Continue to add pieces until the puzzle is full, following students’ directions. As it becomes necessary to rotate, flip, or erase pieces, demonstrate use of these game controls (note: hovering the mouse over each tool provides an animated display of what it does). Purposely try to fit shapes where they don’t belong, and discuss the idea that the outline must be filled completely “with no white space”, but that nothing can hang over the edge.
3. After the puzzle is finished, ask children what they noticed about the shapes. Did they see any places on the puzzle where two different shapes could fit? How could they use two shapes to fill a spot where there is one shape now? Invite volunteers to the front to demonstrate their explanations.
4. Clear the puzzle, and, as a group, attempt to fill it using different blocks, again following children’s suggestions. Challenge children to find multiple ways to fill the puzzles in the following activity.
AMSTI Investigations users may choose to substitute the interactive pattern blocks puzzles available on the Shapes software CD.
1. Distribute the pattern block puzzles to pairs of children, so that both partners have the same puzzle. (Note: differentiate the activity by giving the more difficult puzzles to the above level students and the simplest puzzles to those below level). Challenge each pair to fill the puzzles two different ways. Remind children that the shape must be completely covered, but no blocks may “stick out” of the lines.
2. As children work, prompt them to see relationships between shapes using dialog such as: What other shapes could you use here? Do you see two shapes that you could put together to match this shape? (ex. two trapezoids form a hexagon) Can you fill in this part with more shapes? With less shapes? How did you figure out that this fits here? Also note whether students seem to understand the idea of filling a shape completely with no blocks outside of the area.
3. Children who finish early may try to complete another (slightly harder) puzzle, or find a third way to fill the puzzle
1. Gather children in a central location (ask them not to clean up their materials). As a group, visit each workspace, and have the pair of children share their strategies with the group. If necessary, ask questions such as; How did you decide which piece to use here? I see you have different pieces here on your other puzzle. Show us how you figured that out. Does anyone see another way this part of the puzzle could be filled? Show us. As students explain their thinking encourage them to use math vocabulary such as square, triangle, hexagon, rhombus, etc. Make sure student understand these concepts.
2. Return to the meeting area. Display the Virtual Pattern Block activity on the interactive whiteboard, with no puzzle visible (remove puzzles by clicking the purple shape at the upper left and selecting the blank board in the pop-up window) Drag a red trapezoid (diamond) onto the workmat. Ask students if anyone can cover the rhombus with two other shapes. Have volunteers demonstrate. (Review vocabulary by asking students to name the shapes) Can someone cover it with three other shapes
3. Ask children to list other sets of blocks they have discovered, in which two or more shapes can completely cover another shape. Teacher may wish to list these on chart paper or ask students to demonstrate on the whiteboard.
1. For additional practice in combining shapes, have each child create a shape with pattern blocks, and trace the outer outline of the shape onto a blank paper. Have another child fill in the shape with pattern blocks. Children may record their solutions by gluing paper pattern blocks in place.
2. Use the Make My Shape worksheet (attached) to extend the above activity. One child creates a design in the work area with pattern blocks, and then traces the outside edges. A second child fills the outline with paper pattern blocks, glues them down, and records the number of each block used.
3. Students can use the Virtual Pattern Blocks individually to produce a variety of shapes. Encourage children to:
a. form the same shape in different ways and/or
b. completely cover a larger block with smaller blocks
Students can print out finished projects or record them with paper pattern blocks on blank paper. For an additional challenge, ask another student to reproduce the design with real or virtual pattern blocks.
More advanced students can create with pattern blocks using a larger variety of tools at this Shape Tools site. Have students describe their creations to the class.
Distribute the Triangle Challenge worksheet from the PreKinders website(scroll down, and click to download pdf file), and paper pattern blocks to each child. Challenge them to fill the triangles as many ways as possible, using the paper pattern block shapes (tip: require children to completely fill the triangle before gluing any of the shapes). Use the following rubric to assess the children’s ability to combine shapes:
4 -- Student found three or more ways to fill the triangles.
3 -- Student found one or two ways to fill the triangles.
2 – Student filled one shape correctly, but other shapes are not full or have shapes glued outside of triangle.
1 – Student glued shapes outside triangle and/or didn’t completely cover shape.