Attribute Blocks

Attribute blocks are math manipulatives that are used to teach shapes, sorting, and patterns. The blocks have four different attributes: (1) Shape, (2) Color, (3) Size, and (4) Thickness. The types of attributes commonly used are:

Shape triangle, rectangle, square, circle, hexagon
Color red, yellow, blue
Size small, large
Thickness thick, thin

Virtual Attribute Blocks Manipulative

Attribute blocks are often used with grouping circles and Venn diagrams to sort and classify blocks by various attributes. Educators use attribute blocks to teach students to identify attributes, sort objects, find patterns, and understand differences.

Virtual manipulatives, such as Brainingcamp's Attributes Blocks, offer unlimited blocks. Brainingcamp's Attribute Blocks also includes grouping circles, Venn diagrams, and pattern trains. The pattern trains include built-in checking to provide learners with direct visual feedback. The virtual manipulative also includes a random attribute generator.


Using an Attribute Blocks

Identifying attributes

Place a random attribute on the workspace. Describe the block's four attributes (size, color, thickness, shape). Find an attribute block that is the same, only different in size.

Sorting (Single Attribute)

Create 3 grouping circles, and label them: Red, Blue, and Yellow. Randomly select attribute blocks and place each into the circle in which it belongs.

Sorting (Multiple Attributes)

Using a 2-circle Venn diagram, label the circles "Red" and "Large" respectfully. Randomly select attribute blocks and place each into the circle in which it belongs. Blocks that are both red and large belong in the intersection of the two circles. Blocks that are neither red nor large belong outside the circles.


Create a pattern train using the following blocks: 1) small-blue-triangle, 2) small-yellow-square, 3) large-blue-triangle, 4) small-blue-square. Try to extend the pattern. The pattern alternates between triangles and squares, so the next block should be a triangle. Pick a random block. If it can extend the pattern, add it to the end of the train.


Start a train with a small-thin-red-triangle. The attribute block in the next position must be different by only 1 difference. Place a small-thick-red-triangle in the next position. The neighboring blocks have 3 attributes the same (size, color, shape) and only 1 different (thickness). Continue making a train where neighboring blocks have only 1 attribute different.

Similarity and Congruence

Similar figures have the same shape. Congruent figures have the same shape and also the same size. Any small triangle is similar to any large triangle because they have the same shape. However, a small triangle is not congruent to a large triangle because the blocks do not have the same size. A large blue triangle is congruent to a large red triangle because the blocks have the same shape and size (place one on top of the other to confirm).


To create a domino-style attributes game, give each player the same numbers of randomly selected attribute. Players take turns adding an attribute block to an already placed attribute block that has only one attribute different. If a player cannot place a block, they must skip a turn. The winner is the first person to use all their attribute blocks.