The first graders are developing their understanding of building techniques and the relationships between 3-D shapes through explorations in the classroom and the art studio. Recently we spent time learning more about the mathematical relationships between some of the blocks in our Block Area. The shapes and sizes of our blocks exhibit volumetric relationships that aid in the construction of intricate block formations. We focused particularly on the UNIT BLOCK, a small rectangular block that determines the properties of many other blocks. Awareness of the relationships between the shapes of our blocks helps to develop our mathematical understandings and foster block-building skills that can be applied to our Project Work.
After examining the unit block together, the first graders worked in partnerships to look for other block shapes in our block area that can be made with unit blocks. As we found other block shapes that were made up of unit blocks, we named them the double unit block (two unit blocks) and the quad-unit block (four unit blocks).
Next, the first graders responded to the challenge: How many different ways can you make the shape of a unit block using two other blocks? The students worked in partnerships in the block area until several solutions emerged. When we gathered on the rug to share our work, we were surprised to discover four different ways to make the unit block using two blocks!
Afterwards, the students worked in their partnerships to find ways to make the unit block using more than two blocks. Some students found combinations that resulted in a similar shape but a different size, or a similar size but a different shape. We worked to find combinations that were an exact match. When we shared our discoveries together as a group, we found that 4 triangle blocks made the shape of a unit block; one square block and 2 triangle blocks also matched the unit block. We wondered: Do you think we’ve found all the combinations? Some students were confident that we had, while others weren’t so sure. We will keep looking for combinations as we continue our block work this year.
This class chart represents our new learning, and it will be used for reference in the block area: