Sunday, April 16, 2017

Pattern Block Templates and Activities with Google Drawings

Pattern Blocks are popular math manipulatives that seem to have been around forever (at least they were around when I started teaching math 25 years ago.) The standard set includes:
  • Yellow hexagons
  • Red trapezoids
  • Blue thick rhombi
  • Tan thin rhombi
  • Green triangles
  • Orange squares

There are loads of fun learning activities that can be done with pattern blocks, including exploration of symmetry, fractions, tessellations, angles, and more. Pattern blocks can also be used outside of math for creativity, art, writing, and such.

As useful as pattern blocks are, the physical versions have a few drawbacks:
  • They cost money to buy.
  • You will always have a limited amount.
  • They can get lost.

One alternative is to use digital pattern blocks. Although there is nothing quite like handling the plastic blocks in real life, students can still do loads of activities with the virtual version.

To help with this, I have created a free Google Drawings template with virtual pattern blocks. In addition to the blank template, I have also made several sample activities to show some ideas for how these could be used. See below to get more details and to get your own copies of all these resources.

The Basic Pattern Block Template

The basic Pattern Block template is a Google Drawing with a blank canvas and one of each of the Pattern Blocks off to the left side of the canvas. Each of the six Pattern Block shapes and colors are accurately recreated in the template. The Pattern Blocks can be copied, pasted, moved, rotated, and flipped however you want for your learning activities.

To get your own copy of the basic Pattern Block template, click the link below.

Moving, Rotating, and Flipping Pattern Blocks

As mentioned above you can copy and paste the Pattern Block shapes for your activity. Google Drawings also provides many options for you to move, rotate, and flip the Pattern Blocks as needed. You can use your mouse, or your keyboard, or even a combination of both to manipulate the shapes as needed. See below for a full list of the options.

To move a piece:

Free Move
Click and drag shape with mouse
Arrow keys
Nudge one pixel
Shift + Arrow keys

To rotate a piece:

Free Rotate
Click and drag blue rotation circle
Rotate 90 degrees clockwise
Click "Arrange", then "Rotate", then "Rotate clockwise 90 degrees"
Rotate 90 degrees counter-clockwise
Click "Arrange", then "Rotate", then "Rotate counter-clockwise 90 degrees"
Rotate 15 degrees clockwise
Alt + Left arrow
Rotate 15 degrees counter-clockwise
Alt + Right arrow
Free Rotate by 15 degrees
Shift + Click and drag blue rotation circle
Rotate 1 degree clockwise
Alt + Shift + Right arrow
Rotate 1 degree counter-clockwise
Alt + Shift + Left arrow

To flip a piece:

Flip horizontally
Click "Arrange", then "Rotate", then "Flip horizontally"
Flip vertically
Click "Arrange", then "Rotate", then "Flip vertically"

Example Activities Templates

You can use the basic Pattern Block template to create all sorts of learning activities. As an example, I have created several activities shown below. For each activity I have also included a template that you are free to copy and use if you want.

Horizontal Line of Symmetry - free Google Drawing template

Vertical Line of Symmetry - free Google Drawing template

Ways to Make a Whole - free Google Drawing template

Perimeter of a Garden - free Google Drawing template

Biggest and Smallest Perimeter - free Google Drawing template

Tessellations - free Google Drawing template

Create and Write about a Picture - free Google Drawing template


Pattern Blocks are a tool that can be used for many creative and learning activities. With a quick Google search you can find loads of activities using physical pattern blocks that you can easily adapt to this virtual Google Drawings template. Or you can create your own projects. If you do, please feel free to share how you used this template to engage your students in learning.

Post by Eric Curts. Bring me to your school, organization, or conference with over 50 PD sessions to choose from. Connect with me on Twitter at and on Google+ at


  1. Absolutely love this for K, 1st maybe even 2nd! Always looking for lessons for the younger students to use in Google! Thanks for another great one Eric!

  2. Thanks Eric! Can we use these with our teachers and students?

    1. Yes, please do. Everything I share on the blog is free for anyone to use.

  3. Is there a way to print out each of your suggested templates? When I click for the free template, it comes up blank.

  4. Thanks a lot Eric! I see good use of the Chrome extension Protractor in combination with these templates to let students measure angles!

  5. Eric, you sure have some great assignment ideas.

  6. You never disappoint! So clever! Thanks so much for sharing, as always!

  7. I love the resources that you share!! Thanks, Eric

  8. Awesome! Thank so much for creating and sharing this!

  9. Very interesting. I never realised you could use alt/shift plus left and right arrows to rotate a line through one degree. This is really useful when it comes to using Google Drawings to teach geometry. Is this documented? If so, where? Or did you just discover this feature?

  10. Thanks so much for sharing yet another clever yet simple to use solution for busy classroom teachers to use. Your generosity is appreciated.