When my eldest daughter turned two, she received a large bucket of pattern blocks from my aunt who is a Montessori teacher. The pattern blocks come with a set of pattern cards which you can place the blocks on to make designs of objects such as birds and flowers.
I had never seen pattern blocks before and wasn't quite sure how my two year old would use these blocks and corresponding pattern cards.
Well, at two years old..she didn't. But...what she did do with them was SO much cooler! She would lay the pattern blocks out in long long patterns in our basement and call them her caterpillars! It was so creative and she took so much time placing the blocks just so. Here's a couple flashback pictures of my eldest (now 5) in December 2008 when she was 26 months.
Three years later and this same bucket of pattern blocks is still a hit! I keep these blocks stored away and I bring them out on rainy (or snowy) days when we are stuck indoors. The girls will literally play for hours with these!
Since the blocks just "lay" on the cards they can be bumped off fairly easily. This is why, when we do this activity, the girls sit on opposite sides of the table so that they don't "accidentally" get into each others way (which any parent of young kids knows would elicit a meltdown of epic proportions!)
Sofia (5 years old) loves making the more intricate patterns on the cards..and she also enjoys making the pattern just by looking at the picture.
Maya (3 years old) got a little frustrated at first trying to get the pattern blocks on the cards without them all shifting. My little girl is so independent though that she would not let me help...at all!
But after a little time...and a lot of patience....she did it!
I'm always amazed at how the simple toys are the ones that the kids enjoy most over the years. The pattern cards are very sturdy and have a laminated finish to them making them easy to store without bending. The creative possibilities are endless with these...so dump a bucket out for your kids and see what they come up with!