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Many Ways to Create Patterns

Carol Midgett
Location: unknown

This lesson accommodates multiple learning styles by having students create patterns using different forms. Students use knowledge and skills in new situations to develop a solid understanding of the process for creating patterns, recognizing pattern sequences, and representing patterns in different ways.

To assess prior knowledge, group the students in pairs, and give each student three objects that could constitute the core of a pattern, such as one green cube, one yellow cube, and one white cube; or one hexagon, one blue rhombus, and one trapezoid; or one big button, one mid-sized button, and one small button.

Ask the students to work together by having one member of the pair begin a pattern and the second member of the pair draw the next six shapes needed to make two more repeats of the core. Repeat this activity so that each member of the pair has a turn beginning and completing a pattern.

pdficonComplete the Pattern 

Give each student a copy of Complete the Pattern activity sheet, and have him or her work independently by placing objects on the boxes with an "X" and drawing the two repeats of the core (what would come next if there were two more repeats).

Review the students' work to determine which students understand the concept of creating and recording repeating patterns and which do not.

Save these samples to measure progress, determine grouping strategies, or provide feedback to the students.

To begin the lesson, model for the students how to create an ABC pattern using sounds and movement such as (1) stand up, sit down, snap or (2) squat, stand, clap. Remember to repeat the pattern core at least three times so the students experience the process of creating a repeating pattern.

Show the students different ways to represent the same pattern, ABC, such as by counting "one, two, three" or by gluing a square, circle, and triangle to a strip of paper.

appicon  The Shape Tool 

You might choose to use The Shape Tool virtual manipulative to model what a "stand up, sit down, snap" pattern would look like using different pattern block shapes.

1601 shape tool 

Explain the elements of a pattern.

In the example above, the blue rhombus represents the "stand up" element, the red trapezoid represents the "sit down" element, and the green triangle represents the "snap" element. These elements must be repeated at least two more times to establish a pattern.

Focus the students' attention on the similarities among the different representations of the same pattern by comparing and identifying the common properties of the core in each pattern. (Each has three elements that constitute the core.)

Creating different representations of the patterns and comparing them helps the students make important connections. This exercise builds understanding of the consistency of the pattern and builds the students' ability to recognize translations of the same pattern in multiple media.

Divide the class into four groups of equal size. Give each group a large piece of paper and crayons or markers.

Show a pattern--such as clap, snap, squat--and have one group represent it with letters. Review this representation, noting how the one you presented compares to the one generated by the group.

Ask a second group of students to show the pattern using numbers. Review and discuss this way of representing the pattern. Remember to point out similarities and differences among the three representations.

Have the third group show the pattern using objects. Review and discuss.

Ask the fourth group to represent the pattern with pictures. Review and discuss.

Post the four representations alongside the pattern you presented, and ask the students to point out other similarities and differences.

The discussions following the creation of each pattern are essential to help the students have a visual memory of the pattern so that they have a referent in their "mind's eye" when they are asked to create similar patterns at another time.

Assessment Options 

  1. Ongoing assessment can help teachers document the students’ progress toward learning targets and give teachers important information to share with parents and others.

    Note the understanding that the students demonstrate in their discussion by making notes on the Teacher Resource Sheet, Many Ways to Do It! Review the students' recordings to check for errors and additional insights, and document the names of those students needing additional support and those needing a new challenge.

  2. To help the students verbalize their thinking, engage them in a discussion about the experiences of this lesson. Encourage them to talk about the relationship between creating patterns with movements, words, numbers, and objects to help them make connections among the various translations of the same pattern.
Move on to the next lesson, Connecting Numbers and Patterns.

Questions for Students 

  1. How can you represent your pattern in a different way? 
  2. Could you use material objects to record patterns that you created in other ways? 
  3. What did you notice that was the same about each pattern? Did you notice any differences among the patterns? 
  4. Remember how we made patterns by filling the grid with colored markers? How many colors would you need to color the pattern you made in this lesson on a grid? 

Teacher Reflection 

  • Which students had difficulty translating patterns from one medium to another? What instructional experiences do they need next?
  • Which students created patterns that were more complex than those modeled for them in this lesson?
  • Which students need additional challenges? What should those challenges be?
  • What other Web resources would be useful in teaching the objectives of this lesson?

Finding Properties for Sorting

Students sort objects and observe the properties others use for sorting. This activity helps students understand and connect many mathematical ideas. By labeling their sorts, students connect number with sets of objects that compose the pattern.

What’s My Rule for Sorting?

Students build on prior knowledge of sorting and classifying when they recognize sorts and name rules for sorting. They identify common properties in the classroom environment and make, explain, and defend conjectures to extend their knowledge.

Making a Record of Pattern Cores

This lesson focuses on elements that constitute a pattern core or unit. Identifying the core element or unit that is repeated is a necessary early concept that students must understand to recognize and create repeating patterns.

Connecting Numbers and Patterns

This lesson accommodates multiple learning styles by having students create patterns using different forms. Students use knowledge and skills in new situations to develop a solid understanding of the process for creating patterns, recognizing pattern sequences, and representing patterns in different ways, and connecting numbers with patterns.

Sing and Show Patterns

This lesson accommodates multiple learning styles by engaging students in creating patterns with movement and translating the patterns into other forms.

Calculating Patterns

Students use an Internet-based calculator that is linked with an interactive hundred chart to create, extend, and record numerical patterns in different ways. By connecting the two representations, students observe the numerical patterns as they are created.

Looking Back and Moving Forward

This lesson assesses students' understanding of patterns. It measures their ability to create, extend, and interpret patterns in multiple ways.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Recognize and describe patterns.
  • Use sound and movement to create patterns.
  • Represent patterns in multiple ways.
  • Connect numbers with patterns.

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.