Math Mania: Patterning


Our number system is made up of core patterns.  It is important to begin training children to recognize patterns.  Proving opportunities and experiences aides in this skill development.  We will take a look at activities that offer opportunities to examine the elements in a pattern, reproduce patterns, and create patterns.

I must warn you now, children become so excited about “patterns,” they begin to see them in everything.  They will come to you with a huge smile and say, “Hey, my shirt has a pattern!” or “Mom, our dishes have a pattern!”  That smile and knowing how much enjoyment learning can be, will be worth all the effort!!

Some of the materials that will be useful:

  • Construction paper cut outs of shapes. (Pattern Shape Cards link to pdf.)
  • Rubber Stamps
  • Stamp pads
  • Pattern blocks (see the link for printable pattern blocks in the “Math Mania:Geometry” blog.
  • Pencils/crayons/markers
  • Strips of paper in multiple colors
  • Linking manipulatives (unifix cubes, legos, chain links, etc)
  • Stickers that are repetitive.

The skills taught in patterning are:

¨      Identifying patterns in the environment
¨      Identifying patterns in numbers
¨      Extend patterns
¨      Copy patterns
¨      Create new patterns

In teaching patterns, begin with only two attributes (color, size, direction, etc.). As patterning is mastered with two, then add a third, and so on.  For example, begin with an AB pattern.  If we used red and blue it would look like this:

pattern blog1

You can then go to something more advanced like AABAAB:

pattern blog2

After that, add another color and start and ABC pattern:

pattern blog3

Before we get started, if you teach in themes and need help incorporating patterns into your theme, I will be glad to help, just let me know.

So, here we go with activities:

In all of these activities make sure you are allowing your child to:
¨      Copy your pattern
¨      Finish your pattern
¨      Create a new pattern on their own
¨      Make sure you are saying the attribute: “red, blue, red, blue” and then the labeled pattern “ABABAB” It is important for your child to see that red is A and blue is B.  If this is not a concept he can do on his own, that is perfectly acceptable at this young age; however, you must continue to point the labeled pattern to him. He WILL eventually “get it!”

Activities that require no materials:

Patterned Sounds: In this activity, clap, snap/slap in a sound pattern.  As you begin this game, actually chant the pattern: “snap, clap, snap, clap, etc”  Have your child join in when they can.  Once this pattern is achieved by your child, change it to a different pattern, “clap, clap, snap, clap, clap, snap, etc”.  As your child improves, add a third action.

Patterned Movements: This activity is done the same as Patterned Sounds, but with movements like: jump, step, bend, stretch, arms up, arms down, etc.

Activities with items around the house:

Copy the pattern: Using items around the house: dry beans, buttons, toothpicks, leaves, etc, make a pattern and your child draws the pattern. Allow your child to then make up the pattern and draw it, too.  *Note for young children, allow them to verbalize the pattern.

Shoe pattern: Collect different shoes from around the house and use an attribute to make a pattern: dressy, tennis shoe, dressy, tennis shoe, etc.

Object Patterns:  Using things from around the house, make a pattern.  Paper clip/rubber band; apple/orange; fork/spoon/knife; rock/leaf; red candy/blue candy; etc.  Be as creative as you can with this.

Candy/food Patterns:  Use candies like: skittles, M&Ms, color sprinkles, different macaronis, etc.

Pattern Walk:  With a note pad or camera, take a walk and find patterns to draw/photograph in the yard, house, community.

 Magazine Scavenger Hunt: Find patterns in magazines.  Cut them out and glue them to paper.  Make a “Pattern Picture Book”

Draw/color/paint a patterned snake, caterpillar, flower bed,  etc.

Make a pattern construction paper chain.

Make a patterned bracelt, necklace, etc using pipe cleaner or yarn with beads,  multi-colored straws cut into small pieces, colored macaroni, etc.

Make a patterned bird feed garland for outdoors.  Parents will need to help with this one.  Using a needle and thick thread string cheerios, popcorn, cranberries, etc, into a pattern.  Hang outdoors for the birds.

Activites with items you can download, make, or purchase:

Print the Shape cards and make patterns with those.

Print pictures of the theme you are doing and put those in a pattern.  For example, if transportation is your theme you could do car, truck, car, truck, etc.  Pets: dog, cat, fish.

Use Rubber stamps and make a pattern.

Make your calendar time include patterns every day.  For example: your calendar number cards can have pictures that go along with a theme you are teaching and rotate them daily.  If you aren’t teaching in themes, you can use colored cards or shapes on the cards.

Using the little decorative erasers or foam shapes from the dollar stores, make patterns.

Using  shaped cookie cutters and cookie dough, cut shapes and bake them in an pattern on your cookie sheet.

Buttons are great to make patterns.

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