Stamping out shape patterns

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We have a wonderful, slightly old and used kit from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that has a huge set of pattern making stamps. It was a toy that we played with when we were kids, and it survived into our Parenthood. It’s a wonderful thing to bring out on the kitchen table, and work with your toddler to figure out how to systematically layout patterns from different shapes on the stamps.

We let our toddler choose which type of complicated, beautiful shape he wants to create. Then we work with him to figure out which of the stamps we can use together to get to that shape.

We build off of our child’s love for triangles, stars, and other complicated shapes, to then talk through exactly what the different components are of the shapes.

The nice thing about the stamps is that it’s easy to make lots of mistakes, and then talk through what went wrong, and how to stamp them better next time. We tend to layout out the shape with the stamps, talking through what we’re doing. Then we ask our child to try to do the same.

This is a mix of design and systems thinking. We have the child look at the complex shape, and try to deconstruct it to figure out how to make the ingredients mixed together to make that complexity. It also involves visual coordination, to lay out these individual shapes, with the right composition and placement.

For the holiday season, it’s great to do the stamping on the back of envelopes, or on the front of blank cards. Then every holiday card is special!