Power Block Ideas for Teachers

What is so special about Power Blocks?
For students of any age using geoboards in their classrooms, Power Blocks offer geoboard readiness experiences. Nearly all the square, rectangular, parallelogram and trapezoidal shapes that can be represented with rubber bands on a geoboard can first be manipulated and explored concretely with Power Blocks. Any shape bounded by the nails of a geoboard can be made with Power Blocks, and once made, explored more easily and more thoroughly. Power Blocks compare to geoboards as beans and cups for teaching place value compare to number problems written on a page.

Generally, elementary school students have little or no experience offering mathematical proofs, and little practice with the logical thinking involved. The tangram lessons in Mathematics a Way of Thinking are designed to introduced the notion of direct and indirect proofs to children in the intermediate grades. Power Blocks extend the proving powers and logical thinking exercises of tangrams through all grades.

Students exploring Power Blocks learn fraction concepts naturally. Geometric and algebraic understand flow from the materials as well. Tiles for presenting number concepts in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are a part of each set. And, of course, several sets of the tangrams that inspired the Power Blocks themselves are contained within each set.

Can I order Power Blocks?
The Center authored the books Mathematics Their Way and Mathematics a Way of Thinking to assist teachers in presenting mathematics to their students in ways that would facilitate understanding. The Center created Power Blocks with the same goal in mind. However, whereas the Center was able to find a publisher for its two books, it has not yet been able to find a company ready to manufacture and distribute Power Blocks.

The Power Blocks distributed in the past were part of the sets the Center had manufactured to test their effectiveness in the classroom. However, the Center is not a publisher and does not have the resources to manufacture and distribute Power Blocks on its own. When the Center finds a company to manufacture and distribute the Power Blocks we will let you know. Until that time, though, additional sets of Power Blocks will not be available.

I have a set of Power Blocks. Where can I find suggestions for how to use them with my class?
The downloadable (free) Patterns and Connections manuscript can be accessed from the Home page of the Center’s website. It contains a sample Power Block lesson in Chapter 15, part 1. The lesson begins on page 388 and is called "One question...". The chapters are downloadable individually, so you do not have to download the first 387 pages to read the lesson. There are references to Power Blocks throughout the manuscript. Unfortunately, however, there is not yet an index to guide you to these references.

The link below will lead you to a downloadable copy (also free) of the book Power Block Ideas for Teachers. There are also two sample pages of questions included that you may use to lead your students in exploring the Power Blocks. The sample pages of questions have more value if teachers or parents using them first read the Power Block lesson in the Patterns and Connections manuscript mentioned above.

Teachers have also been exchanging ideas for using Power Blocks on the Center's forum on this website.

I have a set of Power Blocks that I am not using any more. Is there an after-market for the Blocks?
If you wish to sell your set, there is always the eBay option-- If you wish to donate your Power Blocks to teachers anxious to share the Power Block experience with their students, the Center has been sending the few sets it has received from retired teachers to schools in both the United States and India. The reason for donating to schools in the U.S. is obvious. The reason for donating to schools in India is less so. While we have not yet been able to find a company in the United States ready to manufacture the sets, there are companies in India contemplating doing so. Sending sets to India permits potential manufacturers to see the Power Blocks in use. If an Indian manufacturer can be found, the Power Blocks will then become available for students everywhere.

If you wish to donate a no longer used (and hopefully in tact) set, you may write the Center at for donating instructions.

Power Block Ideas for Teachers