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August 21, 2012

Mama Loves Geometry!

I fondly remember playing with tangrams when I was growing up.  I always loved the simple geometric shapes, and I enjoyed experimenting with different configurations.  (I'm not sure I was ever very good, but I liked it!)

I've had my eye on the idea of pattern blocks for a long time now.  I actually have a set of tangram animal puzzles sitting upstairs, one I bought last year during a pre-holiday sale, but I don't think the girls are quite old enough for them.

In the meantime, I stumbled across a tub of magnetic foam shapes at our local parent-teacher store.  I originally bought them with travel in mind, thinking the girls could play with them while we drove to North Carolina a few weeks ago.  I held out on that idea, though, and decided to introduce something new yesterday.

After stressing that these were "special toys" that could only be played with in the presence of Mommy or Daddy (because of the small parts), I dumped out the contents of the tub, and the girls were intrigued at all the pieces.

I quickly showed them how to make a couple of basic things...a flower, and a house...and they were off!

The girls played for a full hour in the morning, and then again for more than that in the afternoon.  (I played right alongside them, and had a blast, too!)


At first they started making free-form creations, and telling me they were making "cats" or "bunnies" or "houses".

Here's B, making a cat (you can see one green ear, a green nose, and a red mouth...the yellow hexagons were "fur, all around").  Next to B's cat is a star-turned-triangle I made.  :)
Then Baby A started lining up a bunch of pieces and filling in the gaps with different shapes.  I loved seeing her problem-solving and her patience!

Lots of small green triangles to flank Baby A's stack of trapezoids.  She kept working on it beyond this, too!  She told me it was a Christmas tree, and she added different colors around it for decorations.

Later in the day, the girls wanted to look at the booklet that came with the shapes.  B was intent on me helping her lay out a pretty complicated quilt pattern.  She worked so hard on it!

The more they played with the shapes, the more they seemed to get the hang of what angles would fit with what shapes.

And the more my mind began to spin, the more giddy I got at all the mathematical applications.  In addition to "geometry", I think the shapes will be a great representation of fractions, too.

The girls don't have to know any of that, though...as far as they know, they're making flowers and houses and trees and stars.  Shhhh...don't tell them they're learning!

I'm linking up with my sweet friend Julia at Pontifications of a Twin Mom for her weekly series, "Mama Loves".  This mama loves geometry...color shapes...cool magnets...and fun ways to learn.

8 comments:

cat said...

Looks fantastic!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

You've given me an idea - we have odd shaped puzzles that they've outgrown but we can take the shapes and play like this!!!

PJ said...

So many cool things you can do with pattern blocks! Try putting a mirror up to them and talk about symmetry! Maybe put paper on top and do crayon rubbings (they will need help holding it still), of course talk about shapes and colors.

You can buy pattern block stamps. You can use the wooden pattern blocks to stamp into playdough.

Tangrams are kind of hard, even for some 2nd graders.

PJ said...

Also make patterns and label them on paper, ABABAB...

Deanna said...

I LOVE that those are magnetic! We have the wooden Melissa & Doug set (the smaller/younger set, but I'm thinking we will be investing in the larger set by Christmas!). A magnetic set like this would be so great for our road trip to the beach next month.

I'm glad to see other grown ups get excited about making geometric shapes and other fun kid things. (And I think you mentioned coloring books yesterday? I love to color even more than A & M do!!) : )

Mandy said...

Oh I do love it! We have a giant set of wooden ones with 5 or 6 double sided boards that the girls are amazing with. I'm right there with you in your love of building along side them. My favorite is when they make me try to guess what their jumble of shapes are.

I'm half tempted it magnetize our now!

Mandy said...

Oh I do love it! We have a giant set of wooden ones with 5 or 6 double sided boards that the girls are amazing with. I'm right there with you in your love of building along side them. My favorite is when they make me try to guess what their jumble of shapes are.

I'm half tempted it magnetize our now!

Johanna Baker said...

Love them! I have all of the ones from my classroom. My magnetic ones are thinner than yours - I like yours better! Cam and Gray adore these. I made a bunch of patterns and pictures to match up with. I'm going to make some for you and mail them to you! :)

 
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