Before trying the attribute block activities below, give children lots of time to play with them in an unstructured way. Some students will use them for make believe type of activities and others will use them in a more traditional way, trying to make patterns with them or sorting them by size, shape and color.
Attribute blocks are math manipulatives that have four different features. These are shape, color, size and thickness. The shapes are circles, hexagons, squares, rectangles and triangles. The three colors are red, blue, and yellow. The two sizes are big and small. The blocks are either thick or thin.
Why use attribute blocks?
Attribute blocks are a good introduction to logical thinking for young learners. They learn color and shape concepts by sorting blocks.
Children learn one attribute of the blocks at a time. Most recognize the color differences by the time they are in preschool or kindergarten.
Words like large, thick, thin and the names of the shapes may have little meaning at first but the more the children play games with the attribute blocks, the quicker they learn the vocabulary.
Attribute block games
Make a Bridge
The wall game mentioned in “Teaching Math Vocabulary” works well with these blocks. The children learn to use four different descriptive words with each block they choose. Change the game from make a wall to “Make a Bridge” as these blocks will not stand on their sides but lay flat on the floor.
For example, when it is a child’s turn they might say, “I added a blue, large, thick square to the bridge.” Remember this is quite tricky for children and describing only one or two attributes to begin with is fine.
Another fun game is played by spreading the blocks on the carpet. Carefully hide one block without the children seeing it. The students sit on the carpet around the pile of blocks and try to guess which block is missing.
When they guess they usually start by saying, “The blue triangle!” Prompt them to use all the attributes by replying, “Which blue triangle, the thick one or the thin one?” Further the vocabulary growth by prompting for the next attribute. “Is it the large blue triangle or the small blue triangle?”