Using Blocks to Learn Shapes and Patterns

I was recently slammed with deadlines and had no childcare and needed to find some way to make it all work and came up with this quick activity.

I cut off a sheet of paper from our long roll of easel paper and grabbed the bin of blocks. The kids don't use the blocks much and I thought maybe I could make them more enticing. I found a pencil (though I'd suggest a marker in the future as it's easier to see) and starting tracing shapes. I would put two to four of the blocks together to make a new shape and then trace each block so there was a "puzzle" place to put them.

Then I laid the paper on the floor with the bin full of blocks and set a couple on the shapes. Then I got the kids up from nap and let them discover it as an invitation to play.

Miss M (age 3 3/4) didn't really see what to do at first (she likes instructions) but Mr. M (21 months) plopped himself right down and started playing with them. He wasn't matching shapes (I didn't expect him to at his age) but he started sorting them and lining them up which is a great toddler skill. Seeing her brother get in to it gave Miss M the motivation she needed to check it out.

I found it interesting that she did more than I had intended for the activity. For a big square of rectangles, she discovered another block fit in the middle space it left, for two arches, she put the half circles in to fill it and make a full circle. Some shapes looked like a "birdhouse" to her when she built them so then she got a pencil and started drawing birds on the paper for it.

It's a great activity for looking at shapes in new ways and understanding how different shapes (i.e. two triangles) can make a new one (square). It also allows for some imagination growth, such as the birdhouse for Miss M, and working on sorting, matching, and fine motor skill development for Mr M. I could also see it being used for counting and colour identification skills for the little man. They've both requested it again since, so I'm thinking I may need to make something a bit more sturdy, perhaps with a surface that's able to be wiped off so they can use dry-erase markers on it. I'll have to think on that...

And, even better, it gave me another half an hour to try to get some work done.