Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pattern Blocks

"Where did you get these books?" 
A newer to homeschooling mom asked.

These resources were the treasures I collected at my very first homeschooling conventions and used curriculum sales. Twenty years an counting, the pattern block books (along with the tangram materials) remain some of our family learning favorites. Buckets of pattern blocks, wooden or plastic, contain green equilateral triangles, blue rhombi, tan rhombi, orange squares, red trapezoids, and yellow hexagons. Pattern blocks teach concepts in patterning and geometry as well as fractions.

Earlier this week a little learner pulled the bucket of wooden pattern blocks and Animal Patterns from our resource closet.

We found other great ideas online. Giant pattern blocks for the littlest learners. Older learners may desire more complex patterns and puzzles.

Our learners played for at least an hour, using templates and then designing their own geometric creations. Pattern blocks, once again, helped make math real!

Adding pattern block ideas to my Pinterest boards for those who follow!
Other geometry favorites here

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tangram Fun

Thinking skills. Geometric concepts. Reasoning. 
Tangrams offer multiple dimensions to learning fun.

I remember one of my very first convention experiences. The hall was packed with aisle after aisle of hands-on learning materials. Tangrams. Counting bears. Balance scales. Letter tiles. Microscopes. Snap cubes. Pattern blocks.

Tangrams were one of our first purchases. We've loved learning with them for over 20 years.

Today, the internet makes it possible to print tangrams on colored card stock at lunch, cut apart the basic shapes, and enjoy geometric thinking and problem solving during afternoon free time. Fast. Fun.

Each basic tangram set (sometimes called the Chinese tangram puzzle) includes 7 pieces: 5 isosceles right triangles, 1 square, and 1 parallelogram. The area of the large triangle is twice the area of the medium triangle, and the area of the medium triangle is twice the area of the small triangle. The angles of the shapes are either 45, 90 or 135 degrees. Pieces are used to create objects, from cats to boatsSolutions are endless, encouraging and cultivating thinking and problem solving.

Over the span of 20 years (many of those without the internet, sigh!) we have used many resources; many remain available:

Friday, May 2, 2014

Ants Go Marching...into Language Arts

My friend Michelle (Once Upon a Homeschool) posted a precious picture on Facebook this morning. 

It ignited our learning!

Doing the morning run through FB, I gasped in excitement. "That is sooo cute!"

"What's cute, mom? A little learner inquired.

"This ant hill!"

I had their attention. An ant hill!

Not three sentences into my explanation, the little learner ran to the art supplies and pulled out black construction paper.

"I want to make those!"

Tempted to linger at the computer and search for ways I could add to the learning, I logged out and followed the little learner on her ant trail. In the process, she had invited another learner into the fun and before I knew it, learning was on a different path for the day.

Didn't expect to learn about ants today.

Sitting on the floor with paper and crayons surrounding, we set out to create our unique versions of the activity. Each learner had a different idea about how best to create ANTonym Hill. One wanted a pocket on the side to store the ants. The other decided to draw the hill with a hidden pocket behind the hill opening so the ANTonym matches could march down into the ant hill and hide in the pocket. Genius!

I began thinking up antonyms. I came up with obvious ones: hot/cold, on/off, stop/go. However, I knew this game (or at least we made it into a game) had more potential--vocabulary development and spelling.

Back to the computer I jumped while littles colored ant hills and pockets. In one search I landed more antonyms than we could learn in one day. Together, as I read through all the possibilities, we picked out the ones we wanted for the game.

Excited, they ran to greet dad when he arrived home (with ant hills in hand!) Each pulled out the ANTonyms, explained their version of the game, and read the ants.

Not my plan for the day, but definitely productive!

As the sun rose on another day, learning continued.