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ERIC Number: EJ1064873
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-May
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
How Do They Grow?
Chan, Helen Hsu
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v20 n9 p548-555 May 2015
Students' experiences with pattern blocks begin as early as preschool. At that time, they begin to develop an understanding of repetition by alternating the colored shapes to create AB, AAB, or ABC patterns. They experiment with area and symmetry by covering polygonal spaces using the fewest (or the greatest) number of pattern blocks possible or by creating symmetrical designs. Elementary school students use these same manipulatives to learn basic fractional relationships. As they mature mathematically, students may construct pattern block "protractors" to explore angle measurement. These lesson ideas are just some of the many possibilities that can illustrate the versatility of the colorful polygons in the elementary grades. However, as students progress through the middle school years and beyond, their mathematical experiences are less likely to cross paths with pattern blocks as the popularity and functionality of these manipulatives dwindle. The activities described in this article introduce a more advanced application for pattern blocks because they require students to examine sets of geometric patterns in concert rather than in isolation. Before working on these activities, students had previously explored growing square tile patterns in Core Connections (Dietiker 2013), toothpick patterns in MathLinks (Goldstein et al. 2013), and used multiple representations to show solutions. Still, the idea that these various representations are interrelated was not evident to all learners, so one of the author's goals for the lesson described here was to help students make those connections. A bibliography is included.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education; Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A