Show the students a set of objects that can be sorted according to
several criteria. Buttons, pretty pasta, and attribute blocks work
especially well. Hold up two or three objects and ask the students to
describe each one in as many ways as they can. Record the descriptive
words on the board or chart paper.
Now choose two of the descriptive words that are mutually
exclusive (for example, red and green), and write each on a separate
index card. Next make a Venn Diagram by forming two non-overlapping
circles with yarn, and place one index card in each yarn circle. Now
hold up an object and ask where it should be placed. Repeat with
several more objects. Then remove all the objects and the circles.
Then, choose two of the words that are not mutually exclusive
(such as big and red), and write each one on a separate index card.
This time, make a Venn Diagram with two overlapping circles with yarn
and place one index card in each circle. Hold up an object and ask
where it should be placed. Once the students are familiar with the
process, give each student an object to place.
Next, remove the objects from the Venn Diagram. Now choose two
index cards and place them upside down, one in each yarn circle.
Without revealing the sorting rule, place several objects in the
circles, then ask the students to try to place objects in the circle.
If an object is correctly placed, leave it alone; if it is incorrectly
placed, quietly remove it. When several objects have been correctly
placed, ask for volunteers to tell how they knew where to place the
When the students have correctly identified the sorting rule,
turn over the index cards. Then, remove the items one at a time and
create a pattern where all the students can see it. After you have
repeated the pattern core (for example, small, big, big) three times,
ask for volunteers to place the next object in the pattern. Continue
the pattern until all the students are comfortable with the process.
Ask a volunteer to read the pattern. Repeat with other patterns, using
a different core each time. (A selection of appropriate cores is listed
in the Unit Overview at the beginning of this unit.)
Finally, give each student several buttons or attribute blocks
or pieces of pretty pasta and ask them to make a pattern. You may wish
to use color tiles for younger students. Call on a volunteer to read
his or her pattern and ask if anyone else has a pattern that is like
that one in some way. Encourage several students to read their
patterns, encouraging them to use descriptive words and demonstrating
how to use generic pattern descriptions such as AB.
As homework, have students look for patterns in their homes and on their clothing and be ready to describe them tomorrow.
Questions for Students
1. Show me two buttons (or attribute blocks or pieces of pasta) that are alike in some way. How are they alike? How are they different?
[Both buttons are white, but one is a circle and one is a star.]
2. What labels could you use when you sort this set of (pretty pasta)?
[I could make a group of macaroni and a group of shells.]
3. How could you describe this pattern to a friend?
[AAB, because I made the first and second objects the same but the third one different. Then I did the same thing again.]
4. If you wanted to add to a friend’s pattern, how would you know what to do?
[I would look for what she keeps doing over and over again. If she has red and blue, then red and blue, then red and blue, I know I have to put red and blue.]
- Can most of the students sort objects by a given criteria? Which students still find this challenging?
- Can most of the students read a pattern? What activities are appropriate for those who cannot do this yet?
- Can most of the students extend a pattern? What activities are appropriate for those who cannot do this yet?
- Were the materials used for sorting appropriate?
- What parts of the lesson went smoothly? Which parts should be modified the next time I teach this lesson?
- Classify objects according to chosen criteria
- Create a linear pattern
- Name and read patterns
- Extend a pattern
Common Core State Standards – Mathematics
-Kindergarten, Measurement & Data
Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.