Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thai tangrams and pattern blocks (math games grades 1-3)

Grade 1

Homework 100 board
For homework, both students colored their 100 board to emphasize even numbers. They were excited to talk about the pattern the recognized: stripes on the page. This links back and we used to compare with one of the later patterns in our warm-up.

Warm-up patterns
Following our clapping patterns from last time, I thought it would be helpful and fun to add a visual component. I repeated the pattern cubes activity from last year.

For each pattern, I reveal one cube, then ask them to guess what color comes next and why. After we revealed the whole pattern, then we would clap the pattern, using hand claps for one color and lap claps for the other color of the pattern.

For the alternating pattern (in our case, red-pink-red-pink) we compared with their 100 board pictures of evens and odds.

Have blocks, will use them
After going through the patterns, the kids wanted to play with the cubes. They did several impromptu investigations, partly inspired by the fact that they both ended up with different collections of cubes. Here were some questions we discussed:

  • how many block do they each have? Turned out to be 14 and 21.
  • how many blocks are there all together?
  • are there an even or odd number?
  • which color is more?
  • what are some different ways we could group and count?
Dotty six
The kids played dotty 6 with dice. This was something we discussed two weeks ago with the 2nd and 3rd grade classes.

Play dotty 6 (or dotty 10) with their parents and color the multiples of 3 on the 100 board.

Grades 2 and 3

Tangram investigations
After working on creating some animal and letter outlines, the kids were already pretty familiar with the 7 piece tangram set. This time, we added some more structure to the investigations:

  1. sort the pieces by number of sides
  2. Create new triangles from subsets of their 7 piece sets. These can be hard because the kids have the extra complication of needing to decide which pieces to include and which to exclude:
    • Make a triangle from 2 pieces, 4 pieces, 5 pieces
    • Make non-square rectangles of with different numbers of pieces
    • Make a square from 2 pieces, from 4 pieces, from 5
  3. Order the pieces from smallest to largest. This generated a lot of discussion for the shapes that were difficult to directly compare, particularly the square, the middle size triangle, and the parallelogram
    • Which pieces are the same size?
    • What are your reasons for the ordering? How do you know what is larger?
  4. Area calculations: taking the smallest triangle as a unit, what is the area of all the other shapes? What is the area of all the shapes together?
  5. Create squares using different numbers of pieces: 1 - 7. Are there any numbers which don't have a solution? What is the area of each square? Are there different ways to do it, for example, 3-piece squares that have different areas? 
Thai letters
Josh made 4 Thai letter outlines for ก จ อ ช:

The kids have several associated challenges:
  1. find solutions for Josh's outlines
  2. make their own, improved, versions of Josh's letters.
  3. make their own Thai letter, vowel, tone mark, or number
Looking online, we couldn't find any tangram puzzles involving Thai letters, so this is our gift to the rest of the world!

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