Frustration Free Pattern Block Play

A simple solution for frustration free pattern block play.

contact paper makes pattern block play frustration-free

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I adore pattern blocks, but they can sometimes be frustrating to kids – particularly kids who don’t have a lot of experience using them. You get something all set up, and then you (or, worse, someone else) accidentally knocks your creation and everything falls apart! This is, of course, a great opportunity for kids to practice patience, problem-solving, and resilience, but sometimes it’s nice to not deal with the frustration. You can buy magnetic pattern blocks, which makes things easier, but we don’t have those. Instead, every once in a while I pull out our contact paper and stick it to the floor, a table, or the wall so the kids can create giant pattern block scenes to their heart’s delight. This is an easy solution for frustration free pattern block play for kids!

toddler pattern block scenes created on contact paper

I set this particular sheet up with two-year-old Anna one morning while the kids were at school. She really enjoyed building with the larger yellow hexagons especially, and then she added one of our counter turtles, making him go around from one scene to another.

giant pattern block scenes on contact paper

Lily joined in when she got home from kindergarten, and the wound up creating quite an impressive scene together!

We also love combining our pattern blocks with play dough – the play dough acts as a cement of sorts, and the older kids can build some pretty impressive structures this way! We own both plastic and wood pattern blocks. The wood ones work better for the contact paper play because they are perfectly flat. The plastic pattern blocks were nicely with the play dough because they are non porous.

Our other favorite way to use contact paper is for home-made vinyl wall décor. This is a really fun way for kids to personalize their rooms!

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MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

12 thoughts on “Frustration Free Pattern Block Play”

  1. Great post! How do you store the fun blocks? We have some in the original packaging (which is pretty frustrating). I’m looking forward for J and J to play with them together when Miss J is a little older. Like you, we are tight on space. I feel these are great learning tools, so I want to keep them for now.

    1. jeannine: waddleeahchaa

      Hi Jessica, thought I would share a storage idea. I put manipulatives like pattern blocks and geoboards in a gallon size Ziploc type baggie. I have a large plastic storage tub and place the baggies filed one behind the other kind of like file folders. When the kiddos want to use an item (or I want to teach with them), I pull the baggie and if necessary pour the manipulatives into a small plastic tub or bowl. When they are all done we pour it all back into the baggie and file it away until next time. That way I don’t have to stack so many small plastic tubs. We homeschool and it’s easy to quickly run out of space for learning supplies. (When the kids were younger I always had just a couple of manipulative tubs ready to go – the rest of the items stored in baggies.)

  2. What a great idea for making it more playable. I had some magnetic ones for the kids, but they never really got into pattern blocks all that much.

  3. jeannine: waddleeahchaa

    Very smart MaryAnne! We have some flat style pattern blocks that the kids use on cookie sheets. But the contact paper is ingenious and gives the kids more space.

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