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Sing and Show Patterns

Carol Midgett
Location: unknown

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

To begin the lesson, write the chant, Five Little Monkeys, on a piece of chart paper for the students to read, and point to the words as the class chants the rhyme.

pdficon Song Lyrics 

Complete the chant and ask the students to tell you the element that is repeated in the chant.

Note: The number of monkeys left on the bed decreases by one each time or the ending word of alternating lines is "bed" and "said."

pdficon Class Notes 

Make notes on the Class Notes Teacher Resource Sheet regarding the students' understanding of patterns. This will give you a picture of the performance levels of the students in your class and enable you to plan for individual differences and needs.

pdficon Label Cards 

Before beginning this lesson, prepare Label Cards for the songs, A Sailor Went to Sea and A Student Went to School.

These lyrics might also be posted on a chart for the students to read as they sing.

Sing the song, A Sailor Went to Sea, to help the students hear and sing a repeating pattern sequence.

Discuss with the students how they repeat words in the song.

Model how to use numbers to label the pattern of the repeat of the words "sea" and "see" in the song (one, two, three).

Remember that the focus of this lesson is on repeating patterns and that many children's songs, such as "The Farmer in the Dell," model growing patterns.

After the students learn the words and melody to the song, choose six students and give each one a single label card (See 1, See 2, See 3 and Sea 1, Sea 2, Sea 3).

Instruct the students holding the cards to stand and display their card at the appropriate time as the class sings the song again.

For instance, the student holding “See 2” should stand and display his or her card the second time the class sings “see.”

A second song, A Student Went to School, can be sung to the tune of “A Sailor Went to Sea.” It allows students to use the same tune and substitute new words for additional practice. A creative, reinforcing activity is to have the students create their own new words for the tune "A Sailor Went to Sea."

Write the lyrics that the students contribute on a chart for them to read as they sing. This allows practice with reading, as well as practice in creating patterns.

Once the students know the words to the song they wrote, create and distribute label cards for their repeating words (School 1, School 2, School 3 and Learn 1, Learn 2, Learn 3). Have each student stand and display his or her card at the time his or her word is repeated in the sequence.

To document the students' understanding of the patterns found in the songs suggested in this lesson, have them write the title or lyrics of a song on a piece of paper and record the words that are repeated in a special color, such as writing "see, see, see" in blue.

This exercise provides practice with recognizing and recording patterns and with writing simple, familiar words.

Assessment Option 

Determining what the students know, are in the process of learning, and still need to know is an essential element of effective teaching. Documenting that information allows you to refer to it to make important instructional decisions. Focus on the students' knowledge about patterns and use the Class Notes Teacher Resource Sheet to document your observations.


Move on to the next lesson, Calculating Patterns.

Questions for Students 

  1. What would come next in your pattern? Why is that true? 
  2. Are there other songs that you know that include patterns? 
  3. How does singing a pattern help you recognize and remember it? 
  4. What relationships did you notice between the patterns created in this lesson? 
  5. How do the patterns in this lesson differ from the patterns in previous lessons? 

Teacher Reflection 

  • Which students have difficulty recognizing "what comes next" in patterns? What instructional experiences do they need before moving to the next lesson?
  • Were the students able to extend patterns easily? If not, what questions could I ask to guide them to think about ways to do so?
  • Which students were able to translate freely among the different representations of the same pattern? What challenges are appropriate for them now?
  • Which students demonstrated limited understanding of patterns and ways to analyze, create, describe, extend, or interpret patterns?

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.

Many Ways to Create 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.

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.

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.
  • Extend existing patterns.
  • Translate patterns from one representation to another.

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.