Three Block Towers (K-8) [video]

This activity from NRich has students exploring shapes and colors. In this activity students investigate the combinations of ways they can make a tower with three different colored blocks. They then see how many different towers they can make with four different colored blocks. The many combinations of colored towers provides an authentic reason for students to find a way to keep track of and organize the ideas they collect. This task also helps students develop hand eye coordination and allows them to explore with cubes. Don’t worry if you don’t have blocks. You can use any three objects and see all the different ways you can stack them.

Below, you can access the task for K and 1-2. However, this can still be a great task for older students. They can answer questions like the ones below and focus on explaining their thinking clearly to convince a skeptic:

  • How many ways can you make a four block tower?
  • How do you know when you have found all the ways?
  • What  about a five block tower?
  • What patterns are you noticing?