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Groundhog Day was yesterday and whether Punxsutawney Phil was right or wrong, the cold in some parts means children are still cooped up inside needing activities to keep them busy and engaged.  That’s where old blocks can come in handy!

Original Purpose: Building and stacking

With Sensory Lenses:  A Mini-Weather Geoboard to tie into recent weather events while providing sensory input and working on fine motor skills.

“A geoboard is a mathematical manipulative used to explore basic concepts in plane geometry such as perimeter, area and the characteristics of triangles and other polygons. It consists of a physical board with a certain number of nails half driven in, around which are wrapped rubber bands.” (1)

To make your own, simply pound a number of push pins or small nails into an old wooden block or some other small piece of re-purposed wood.  Print out four simple weather related design cards.  Then, grab a hair band or various colored rubber bands.

If you have older children, or supervised younger ones who love hammering, they can even create the mini geoboards themselves for some extra proprioceptive input! Just be sure to have them wear protective glasses and to have plyers on hand. Occasionally, the push pin heads break when hammered, requiring glasses so as not to get pinged in the eye.  The plyers can be used to pry out broken push pins for replacement ones if they do break.

After you are complete with the creation of the mini weather geoboards, encourage children to create similar outlined shapes with an elastic on the mini geoboard.  Learn about weather, shapes, design, etc., and garner proprioceptive fine motor input for little fingers.  Stretching the rubber bands isolates the index and middle fingers and provides traction to them. Copying the designs from the cards requires attentiveness, concentration and focus. Plus, the activity helps with control of movement, motor planning, etc.

Adapt the Activity

  • To encourage creativity, give children several different colored elastics and suggest they make layered shapes on their geoboards.
  • Offer tweezers and ask children to try to manipulate and move elastics around the geoboard.  This will offer increased fine motor exercises by working on their pincer grasp.
  • To tie into math, ask children to put their elastics around a certain number of push pins.  For an independent activity, provide the child with number cards.  For a group activity, call out numbers.  Likewise, ask them to create sets of different numbers.
  • To literally build on construction-theme interests, encourage children to build larger geoboards using scrap wood and nails or push pins.
  • To review basic shapes, switch out the weather cards with ones for “circle”, “triangle”, “square”, etc.

The possibilities are endless.  Take a a simple miniature block-and-push-pin geoboard, some rubber bands and picture-word cards and you have a simple sensory activity to supplement their learning.  Tuck away your geoboard activity into a zippered plastic bag for use as a travel activity, a work box filler or an activity bag swap idea.  Enjoy!


“Geoboard.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 01 June 2014. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.

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Martianne is a homeschooling mom with over 20 years of experience in education, youth work and dramatic arts both in the United States and abroad. With certifications as a Middle School Generalist and English 8-12 teacher, plus a drawer full of certificates from a wide variety of professional development workshops and graduate courses, she brings a comprehensive "traditional" background to her present-day creative pursuits. Visit Martianne at Training Happy Hearts.