Why use ‘Pattern Blocks’ in Early Years!

Pattern blocks have to be one of the most diverse teaching resources for early years. One of the teachers I work closely with thinks it reminds her of the game Tetris when looking at perimeters.

Pattern blocks facilitate in teaching shapes, colour, counting, number and measurements. Using pattern blocks can develop communication, language, emotional, personal & social skills, as well as mathematical concepts. However today lets look at a different method you can utilise when teaching mathematics.

Dr. Paul Swan has adopted the following DTES (see diagram below) for teaching with pattern blocks in early years. Each stages D-T-E-S is an area where the child develops their understanding of the mathematics concepts and learning abilities.

3vpattern_DTES.001 Discover: This is the experiential stage, where a teacher allows the child to learn through using their senses (sees, hears, feels, taste, smells and handles). This stage teaches can suggest ideas however also allow the student to be creative, learning through play.

Talk: A student develops the spoken language to describe and communicate their experience. Most of the activities will be in groups so an interaction with peers, teaches, carers, significant others will strengthen their language.

Explain: Students can explain their ideas through speech, pictures, writing or even actions. For e.g. the children can explain the patterns, shapes, how many colours, grouping in the triangle below. Questions can be asked about the how many shapes can fill the triangle, What colours do you see? Patternblockv2.001

Symbol: Written symbol, (+,-, x) there is a huge amount of knowledge (discover, talk and explanation). To make this symbol and to comprehend other symbols is a very sophisticated achievement.

Next time when teaching with patterns blocks try to introduce the D-T-E-S in stages with activities in order to gain maximum learning time with your students.

It is recommended by Dr Paul Swan and Geoff White in their book ‘Developing Mathematics with Pattern Blocks’ that children experience Patterns Blocks at all levels of the primary school. As the children gain experience, new insights will emerge as they manipulate the material.

Dr. Paul Swan suggests the following when doing activities in the classroom. A classroom table or arrangement of two desks to allow seating for four children, allows a wide variety of activities and solutions to be carried out in the classroom at the same time. Children can share ideas while the teacher can easily check the wide range of thinking. 

Look at the activities and resources below;

Pinterest for pattern blocking, many sheets, ideas from the experts who teach everyday.

Resources by Dr Paul Swan on his website There are great articles, resources and freebie for lesson plan in mathematics.

Edx education (global based contact the office for local distributors) Brilliant teachers and home kits for pattern blocks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s