Help your students learn spatial reasoning skills with pattern blocks. A class set of these versatile shapes can provide hours of fun and education.
Pattern blocks are mathematical manipulatives that let students see how shapes relate to each other.
In the first set, all shapes can be built from the basic equilateral triangle:
- Equilateral triangle (Green)
- Regular rhombus (Blue)
- Trapezoid (Red)
- Hexagon (Yellow)
The second set contains shapes that can’t be built of the green triangle, but can still be used in tiling patterns.
- Square (Orange)
- Small rhombus (Beige)
Click here for an inexpensive set of plastic pattern blocks available at Amazon.com
Students love to make their own patterns from pattern blocks. Another good activity is the pattern block puzzle. Students build complicated shapes, such as a train, using pattern blocks. Some puzzles have interior lines to show which pieces to use. That’s good for beginners. More advanced students like to figure it out themselves.
I like to print the puzzles and either laminate them or put them in page protectors. If you laminate the puzzles, I recommend taping or gluing the puzzle to construction paper for strength.
Recommended pattern block puzzles:
Complete pattern block puzzle book from LearningResources.com
Jessica’s pattern block templates
Online pattern blocks–a fun activity for the computer lab
Christmas pattern block printables
Some student desks can be used as dry-erase boards. This works on laminate fake-wood desks–but not all of them. When you’re alone in the room, try a dry-erase marker on an inconspicuous portion of the desk. If you’re lucky, the mark will wipe right off. Presto! Your students can use their desks for showing their work. (Suddenly, students will fall all over themselves to show their work in math.)
I have found that this works best with any color of marker that isn’t red. Red markers don’t usually erase well on actual dry-erase boards, either. Additionally, I have noticed that the slicker the desk, the more likely this trick is to work. Lastly, dark fake-wood desks tend to work better than the blond fake-wood desks.
This trick doesn’t work for everyone, but if it works in your classroom, your students will think you’re the best!
Good uses for desks-as-dry-erase-boards:
- Showing work on math
- Practicing cursive
- Practicing spelling words
- Taking notes–as a learning tool, not as notes the students need later
- Practicing sample math problems
Other ClassAntics posts about whiteboards, dry-erase boards, and whiteboard markers:
Low-budget whiteboard markers and cleaners
Carpet squares make the best whiteboard erasers
Cheap “whiteboards” for no-budget classrooms
Teachers, here is a wonderful, FREE computer lab activity for Presidents’ Day! Your students will learn about the 7 hats a U.S. president wears and details about seven presidents. This activity is appropriate for grades 3 and up.
This computer game-style activity comes from Scholastic, which of course has an assortment of Presidents’ Day activities. The 7 Hat Challenge is my favorite by far.
Click here to play the game. In order to succeed, your students must understand the 7 hats the President wears:
- Chief of the Executive Branch
- Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces
- Head of State
- Director of Foreign Policy
- Political Party Leader
- Guardian of the Economy
- Legislative Leader
Students learn about seven U.S. presidents, from Washington to Obama. Students will decide which hat the president was wearing when he made various decisions.
The game has two levels: Easy and Hard. Easy is good for third graders–but older students will quickly realize that in the Easy game, each president wears only one hat. Once the student guesses the hat through either knowledge or trial-and-error, it’s easy to answer the other questions about that president since the answer is the same. Older students should play the Hard level, which gives many questions about each president and shows the many hats that president wore.
After your class plays the game, you can use a Scholastic 7 Hats worksheet as an assessment. Click here for the worksheet.
I highly recommend that you use the worksheet as an assessment. Your students will be much more serious during the computer lab activity if they know that they will be quizzed on it later. The worksheet is formatted just like the program, so it’s a quality assessment of the activity.
Happy Presidents’ Day!