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Toothpick Patterns

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    Children's Museum Of Houston

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Toothpick Patterns

In this hands-on activity, learners use toothpicks to build different triangles and squares and then use the toothpicks to build and solve some tricky shape puzzles. This lesson plan contains Texas standards (TEKS), background information, key vocabulary, material list (including black line master), procedures, questions to ask, extensions, and additional resources. This activity can be used on its own or combined with a visit to the Think Tank exhibit at the Children's Museum of Houston.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Flat toothpicks
  • Copies of Tricky Toothpick Puzzles (see black line master)


  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
    • Geometry
      • Plane Geometry
    • Problem Solving
    • Representation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics:

  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.G.A.1: Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.(more info about this benchmark)
  • CCSS.Math.Content.1.G.A.2: Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.(more info about this benchmark)
  • CCSS.Math.Content.2.G.A.1: Recognize and draw shapes having specified attributes, such as a given number of angles or a given number of equal faces. Identify triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes.(more info about this benchmark)

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Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Children's Museum of Houston, ©2008


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