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Online Circle 3: combinations and Dienes shapes

December 27 2020, 9:00-9:30am. Nia (5) and Gye (5)

There were only two kids at the math club. With the holidays a lot of people were visiting with family. I also didn’t send out an email reminder the day before because I don’t like sending email, I don’t like receiving email reminders, and I thought it was understood that the math club would run every week. I will send out emails from now on.

Task 1

Supplies: Blocks in three different colors or Dienes shapes (squares in three colors and triangles in three colors). We started with the shapes. 

What to do: Explain that a house is just a square with a triangle on top. 
- Then asked the kids how many different houses they could make with a red square, a blue square (for the main floor) and a red triangle, a blue triangle, a green triangle (for the roof). 
- I asked the same question but now they had a red square, a blue square and four different colored triangles for the roof. 
- The same can be done with blocks by building 2-high towers.  

Task 2

Supplies: Attribute blocks (I call them Dienes block because that's what the book I read called them) 
The set of attribute blocks in the picture below takes an inordinate amount of time to make. It is much faster to print the pdf file and cut it rather than making the shapes themselves. You can also search "attribute blocks" online and buy a set. 

What to do: Explain that each object has four attributes: 
size: large or small
color: red, blue, yellow, or green
shape: triangle, square, circle
with a hole or not (plain or patterned for the ones in the file)

Take an object at random to start and invite the kids to select one that has three common attributes with the first one - it is easier if they name the common attributes. Alternatively, if the child is having trouble, select one with three common attributes and invite the child so say what the two objects have in common. Long chains can be build where one object has three of the same attributes as the previous one. 

How it went

They were very distracted. Gye put a triangle at one of the corners of a square and declared it was “mermaids”. I then asked if they wanted to count mermaids instead and got a very enthusiastic “YES!”. It didn’t work better. I then showed them by taking the red square, putting each triangle on top and letting them count (1, 2, 3), then doing the same with the blue square (4, 5, 6) – the answer is six!

I then asked them to build 2-high towers with two colors and asked how many different ones they can find. Gye built towers that were 5 block high and alternating in color. Nia didn’t want to do it. When pressed, she grudgingly produced four different ones. (She told me afterwards that she was disappointed there were not more friends.)

I abandoned the Dienes shape activity after a while. We enjoyed talking about their Christmas presents and Gye was very excited about moving to a new house, where she will have her own room, a bunk bed and will be able to invite friends for sleepovers.


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