Begin the lesson by displaying a piece of fabric or wallpaper with a
pattern. Ask the students to describe the pattern in words (for
example, red, green, blue, red, green, blue) and then to record the
pattern using crayons. Then ask the students to look around the room to
see what other patterns they can find. You might want to suggest that
they look at classmate's clothing. Next, ask the students what patterns
they found at their house. Ask students to compare one another's
patterns. Provide them with the appropriate pattern names, such as ABA
Then put the students into pairs and distribute materials such as
buttons, pretty pasta, or color tiles. Ask each student to make a
pattern of at least 3 repeats. When all the students have done this,
ask them to add 2 repeats to their partner’s pattern. (You may wish to
provide rubber stamps or stickers in addition to, or in place of, real
Next make a pattern with overhead color tiles or some other
overhead manipulatives on the overhead projector, and ask for
volunteers to extend the pattern. For example, if you laid out buttons
in the pattern red, red, green, red, red, green, you would expect
students to extend the pattern using a core of two reds and a green (an
Then, tell the students that you are going to play the "One
Away" game. Turn off the overhead projector and remove one tile from
the pattern. For instance, you might take away one red tile; or, as
shown below, a sticker of a flask has been removed from the pattern
flask, flask, atom. Then turn the projector back on and have the
students tell you what was removed. When the students suggest what was
removed, place the piece they name in the pattern and ask them to read
the pattern aloud to verify their answer. Repeat this several times.
Now ask the students to play the "One Away" game with a partner by
using their materials to make a pattern and taking away one object
while their partner’s eyes are closed.
As a concluding activity, have students record their patterns
with crayons, stickers or rubber stamps, leaving a little space between
each element. Now have them make a "One Away" puzzle by covering one
button, sticker or stamp by taping a small piece of paper over it. An
interesting bulletin board can be created from their pattern puzzles.
Questions for Students
1. What will come next in the pattern blue, yellow, yellow, blue yellow, yellow?
[Blue will come next.]
2. What patterns can you find on the clothes that students are wearing? Do you see any other patterns in the room?
[Answers will vary.]
3. How are these two patterns alike?
[Answers will vary, but one possibility is that they are both ABC patterns.]
4. Suppose you want to make an AB pattern. How could you do that? Who could do it a different way?
[You could use two colors, such as red, blue, red, blue. A different answer might use different colors or objects.]
5. How would you make an ABB pattern? How is it like an AB pattern? How is it different from an AB pattern?
[You could use red, blue, blue, red, blue, blue, for example. Like the AB pattern, it has two colors or objects, but the second color is repeated.]
6. How would you explain to a friend how to find out what is missing in a pattern?
[You have to find what is being repeated first. Then you can see what is missing.]
- Which pairs worked most effectively together? Which pairs were less effective? Why?
- Which students can make a pattern? What activities are appropriate for those who cannot do this yet?
- Can most of the students read a pattern? What extension activities are appropriate for those who do this well?
- Which students can extend a pattern? What activities are appropriate for those who can and those who cannot do this yet?
- Which students can identify the missing element in a pattern? What activities are appropriate for those who cannot do this yet?
- Which students recorded their patterns accurately? What additional experiences will help those who did not?
- Identify and read patterns.
- Extend patterns.
- Create linear patterns.
- Record patterns in pictorial form.
- Identify the missing element in a pattern.
NCTM Standards and Expectations
- Sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties.
- Recognize, describe, and extend patterns such as sequences of sounds and shapes or simple numeric patterns and translate from one representation to another.
- Analyze how both repeating and growing patterns are generated.
Common Core State Standards – Mathematics
Grade 4, Algebraic Thinking
Generate a number or shape pattern that follows a given rule. Identify apparent features of the pattern that were not explicit in the rule itself. For example, given the rule ''Add 3'' and the starting number 1, generate terms in the resulting sequence and observe that the terms appear to alternate between odd and even numbers. Explain informally why the numbers will continue to alternate in this way.
Common Core State Standards – Practice
Look for and make use of structure.
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.