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Fun Math for Kids: Pattern Blocks Play

Learn how to use pattern blocks play to make math fun for kids.

building with pattern blocks

Pattern blocks are one of my all-time favorite learning tools for kids! They allow kids to explore colors, shapes, angles, symmetry, balance, and much, much more! I played with these as a kid, and my kids pull our sets out all the time. The 3D sculpture above was one of their more impressive creations, put together by six-year-old Johnny. If you look closely, you will see that he used two different widths of pattern blocks (more on that in a minute), which made the project all the more challenging. I love that he built a very complex, yet still symmetrical, design!

We own both the wooden pattern blocks (This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.) and the plastic pattern blocks, and love both sets for different reasons. The wooden blocks have a completely flat top and bottom, which makes them perfect to use with contact paper to create sensory wall mosaic art and giant pattern block scenes. The wooden blocks are also thicker, which makes them work better as building blocks – they will easy stand up on their edges, whereas the plastic ones are much trickier to balance. We love having the plastic blocks for messy play – such as combining pattern blocks with play dough – and for projects involving water. We also own a set of basic magnetic pattern blocks, which are fun to play with on the fridge. I told you I love pattern blocks!

After school fun for kids - exploring pattern blocks

Four-year-old Lily built this fish. Like Johnny’s tower, it requires a lot of symmetry as well as a strong understanding of how shapes and angles work together. To both Johnny and Lily, this was an exercise in pure play, but play is the best work children can do, and through these self-led exercises that they have set for themselves they are developing the skills they will need to conquer first mathematics and then engineering as they go through school!

Do you have a favorite educational toy?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

9 thoughts on “Fun Math for Kids: Pattern Blocks Play”

  1. Elisa | blissfulE

    Love Lily’s fish!!! Johnny’s tower is very impressive, too.
    It’s been a lot of fun to see what my kids design with math blocks, particularly Cuisenaire rods and pattern blocks. Yay for open-ended play and creativity!

  2. These are great. I learned lots about shapes and colors using Lego and Duplo blocks. I at one point made a “mouse staircase”, and my father explained it looked like the DNA helix (I hope youc an picture what I mean as I can’t seem to explain). I learned about symmetry and later square and squareroot calculation (at around seven, I was an advanced math learner) through some square-shaped computer chips (is that what they’re calle din English too?) my father owned (because he liked constructing and deconstructing computers).

  3. I’m not a big fan of the particular pattern block set we have because it’s flat magnets, and the kids just don’t play with them as much.

    But, I love the tactile feel of the wooden pattern blocks, but then I just love the feel of wooden blocks….

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