Pattern blocks are a common tool used in elementary classrooms. My favorite and the most effective way to use pattern blocks is during my fraction unit. I aim for conceptual understanding for my students and pattern blocks help bridge that gap. Here are 3 ways to effectively use pattern blocks to teach fractions.
1.) Identifying part to whole relationships – Give a different value to the hexagon shape and ask your students to identify the fractional values of the trapezoid, rhombus, and triangle. I always start with the hexagon having a value of 1 whole, but eventually we work our way up to ½, 2, etc. Part to whole relationships are vital for conceptual understanding of fractions and connects perfectly to equivalent fractions. I use the activity below from Frogs and Cupcakes every year to help with this concept.
2.) Adding and subtracting fractions – Whether you’re teaching adding and subtracting fractions with unlike or like denominators, your students can use pattern blocks to practice this skill. Simply create geometric images and ask your students to find the total value of the images. Then take some blocks away so they can practice subtraction of fractions. It’s a simple task that visual learners enjoy. Using pattern blocks is much more fun than the average worksheet! Check out this FREEBIE!
3.) Integrating other math skills into fractions – The image below is of an activity I use with my students during our fraction unit. Once the students identify how many triangles make up the image, they must then divide to find out the dollar value of each triangle. To keep skills that have been taught earlier in the year fresh, integrate those standards into your new lessons. This activity is in my TpT store.
My students always learn new math concepts more quickly and completely when I can incorporate some fun into the lessons. Pattern blocks do just that!