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Builds basic shapes

Featured Math Vitamins:

Building Shapes with Blocks
(Ages 3-6)

In this Math Vitamin, students use rods and pattern block to transform a curved shape into a soft place onto which a storybook character can fall. They explore the shapes they can make with these manipulatives.

| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook

Story: For the third time, Harold found himself falling to the ground. He quickly tried to draw a curve to catch his fall. The first time he fell on a curve, it turned out to be an elephant. The second time, it ended up being a lion!

Now Harold has stumbled upon another curve to help cushion his fall. Grab a sheet and use your imagination to draw the rest of the picture. Then use Pattern Blocks and Cuisenaire Rods to build what you've created.

Inspired by Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson; HarperCollins, 1998

Suggested manipulatives: Multilinks (preferred), Unifix cubes, centimeter cubes, Cuisenaire rods

Prep time: 10-15 minutes, as you will need to create some curved template designs for kids to use when beginning their projects.

Classroom time: Asking children to “do their best work” for each Math Vitamin assumes that some children will need a longer time than others. Ideally you want to offer a block of time for Math Vitamin projects and have another task available (writing, free exploration etc.) for those students who finish work prior to their peers. For this project allow 20-45 minutes for students to work through all the steps.

How to individualize/stretch: For some children, learning how to use triangle shapes with straight shapes to make a curve is the initial learning. For those ready for more, how do they make a shape have more of a curve? What happens when you put a triangle next to another triangle? Further extensions include having students create their project design and then assess a value based on a common value for the blocks instead of drafting an equation based on the overall number of blocks used.

Go to related Common Core State Standards:

Math Vitamins:

Ages 3-6

Build a Detailed Plant

| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook Over the weekend the seed you planted has grown into a full-grown plant. Plants have many parts above and below ground. Antsy Nancy and Grant decide to split up to explore the different parts of the plant. On her way up Nancy encounters the stem, leaves, and flowers. Down below ground Grant travels through a vast root network.

"How's it going down there Grant?" shouts Nancy.
"These roots are like a labyrinth, I'm totally amazed," replies Grant.

Use pattern blocks to create a plant that includes roots, stem, leaves, and flowers.

Make Snowflakes

| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook We're hoping for some snow for our winter vacation, but not much has been falling. Did you know that almost all snowflakes have six branches? Let's help by making some snowflakes of our own out of pattern blocks. Glue the cut out pattern blocks onto the black construction paper.

Design a Birdhouse

| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook This morning, we're starting with Math Vitamin. Remember when Ellen and Brynn told you the story about how Mr. Doodle had to hurry off to help Betty Blueprint with a design dilemma? Here's what happened next once he arrived at her office:

"I'm so glad you're here!" sighed Betty Blueprint.
"Well, you sounded perplexed. How can I help?" Mr. Doodle responded.
"I just got a call from a client, Old Man Fookwire. He needs me to design a birdhouse that will keep pesky squirrels from getting inside."

A lightbulb suddenly went off in Mr. Doodle's eraser and he exclaimed, "Why don't we ask the kids who helped me finish my design to help?" That's YOU! This morning, use Cuisenaire rods to design a squirrel-proof birdhouse. Have fun!

Inspired by Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin; Clarion Books, 2008

Making Shapes on a Geoboard

| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook As you know, George Divoky is building nesting boxes for Guillemots and Puffins on Cooper Island this summer.

Betty Blueprint helped George brainstorm nesting box designs. Choose your favorite 2-D designs to re-create on a Geoboard. After showing your completed re-creations to a teacher, get inventive by making some of your own designs.

Designing Patterns & Recording on Paper

| Download Math Vitamin :   PDF   Notebook Hello from Cooper Island! Thanks for helping out with my designs yesterday. A little black guillemot told me you also made some fantastic nesting box designs of your own. I would love to see some of them, but man-oh-man, it is expensive to send Geoboards in the mail!

Please build some more creative designs and transfer them to paper. Then label the shapes and different parts of your nesting boxes. I look forward to getting your designs in the mail! Love, Betty Blueprint

Math Continuum > Discovery > Builds basic shapes