We happen to have both the plastic and the wooden pattern blocks courtesy of my math manipulatives loving mother. I first got out the wooden set, thinking that – since they are a bit thicker – Emma would have an easier time with them. She got very frustrated at the blocks not lining up perfectly, and so I gave up thinking we’d try again in a few weeks. The next day, though, she went to the closet, pulled out the plastic ones and the pattern sheets, and made this perfect dinosaur:
I don’t know if the thin plastic ones were actually easier for her to use than the wooden ones, or if she was just in a better mood the second day – but she continues to prefer the plastic ones over the wooden ones for this particular activity. If you don’t have pattern blocks or want to make a travel set, Sandra’s post links to printable pattern blocks that you can make out of cardstock.
I laminated all of the pattern sheets by hand using a roll of laminating paper, and if you look at the train compared to the dinosaur, I got MUCH better at it as I went along. Turns out the main trick to laminating by hand is to expose no more than one inch of laminate at a time – may seem obvious to some of you, but it wasn’t to me. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to own a nifty laminating machine that’s even better!