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Eating Patterns

Grace M. Burton
Location: unknown

Students sort pictures of food and create patterns. They also analyze a partner's patterns and extend those patterns.

You may wish to begin the lesson by reading a book about foods and reviewing the food pyramid. See the Bibliography of Books about Food for some appropriate student books.

pdficonAppendix: Bibliography of Books about Food

Gather the students around you and display six yarn circles on the floor. Tell them that each circle represents a section of the food pyramid that they talked about in the previous lesson. Call for volunteers to label the circles by writing the name of the food group on an index card. Now, using the pictures of food previously cut out by the students, ask volunteers to sort them into the yarn circles.

After helping the students recall patterns that they have made earlier in the year, tell them they are to discover the rule that you are using to make a pattern with the pictures of food. Arrange the nine to twelve pictures of food one at a time in a linear pattern by repeating a pattern core (for example, meat, fruit, vegetable) three times. Suggested appropriate pattern cores for this age group are AB, ABC, ABCD, or ABB.

395 ham 395 blueberry 395 fries 395 ham 395 blueberry 395 fries 
A B C A B C 

Then ask for a volunteer to place the next picture in pattern. If the student places the picture correctly, call for another volunteer to place the next picture. If the picture is placed incorrectly, ask the student to hold on to it and try again later.

When several foods have been placed correctly, call on a volunteer to read the pattern aloud. This may be done by using the names for the pictures or labels such as the letters AB, ABC, and so forth. Then help the students who placed their food picture incorrectly to add their pictures to the pattern. Repeat with other patterns, using a different core pattern each time.

Next, ask the students to draw a pattern on a Pattern Strips Activity Sheet with foods from the food pyramid. Remind them that patterns should have at least three repeats of the core.

pdficonPattern Strips Activity Sheet

When the students are ready, call on a volunteer to read his or her pattern and ask whether anyone else has a pattern that is like that one in some way. When patterns have the same form, such as ABC, but the elements used are different, the pattern is said to have been translated. This process requires the ability to analyze the core and to represent it consistently in another way. Name a pattern core and encourage several students to read their patterns if they have that core. Repeat with other cores.

Ask each student to make a food pattern with three repeats on a Pattern Strips Activity Sheet. Now place the students in pairs. Have them trade patterns with their partner and add a repeat to their partner's pattern. End the lesson by having small groups of students compare their patterns in as many ways as they wish. Then collect the patterns for a bulletin board display.

Assessment Option

Add comments from today's lesson to the Class Notes recording sheet.
Move on to the next lesson, Pyramid Power.

Questions for Students 

  1. How many of you made AB patterns? ABC patterns? Other patterns?
  2. What foods from the bread group do you see in this pattern? Are there any foods from the fruit group?
  3. Make a pattern with only fruit and vegetables. How else could you do that? (Repeat with other combinations of food groups.)
  4. Here is a pattern using dairy products and sweets (name a pattern). Could you make a pattern with the same core but using meat and bread?
  5. What would come next in this pattern (name a pattern)? Then what? What would be in the 12th place in this pattern? The 15th place?

Teacher Reflection 

  • Were all the students able to identify to which section of the food pyramid a specific food belonged?
  • Which pattern cores were familiar to the students when the lesson began?
  • What patterns were the students able to create? Were they able to read them?
  • Were all the students able to recognize pattern cores in patterns they did not create?
  • Could students extend patterns and explain their choices?
  • Which students met all the objectives of this lesson? What extension activities would be appropriate for those students?
  • Which students did not meet the objectives of this lesson? What instructional experiences do they need next?
  • What adjustments would I make the next time that I teach this lesson?

Sorting Foods

Students sort foods using the categories of the Food Pyramid. They also create sets up to 10 and write numerals up to 10. Finally, students use an Internet-based tool to apply their knowledge of the Food Pyramid. This lesson makes a natural connection to the science of nutrition.

Pyramid Power

In this lesson, students make sets of a given number, explore relationships between numbers, and write numbers that name how many elements are in a group. They make and record sets of one more and one less than a given number.
Number and Operations

Combining Foods

In this lesson, students explore addition and comparison subtraction by modeling and recording related addition and subtraction facts for a given number. Comparison subtraction is the focus of this lesson because later in the unit, the students will explore the idea of "how many more?" to complete a set. The students also investigate the commutative property and model fact families, including those in which one addend is zero and those in which the addends are alike.
Number and Operations

Try for Five

In this lesson, students explore the many ways to decompose numbers, and they build on their knowledge of addition and subtraction to find missing addends.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Create patterns with pictures.
  • Analyze patterns to determine the pattern core.
  • Extend patterns.

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • 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

-Kindergarten, Measurement & Data

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.B.3
    Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.

Common Core State Standards – Practice

  • CCSS.Math.Practice.MP2
    Reason abstractly and quantitatively.