Nationwide Delivery To Your Doorstep
Guaranteed 90 Day Test Period

Perfecting Patterns

No Image
posted on 

It is said that Mathematics is the science of patterns and that nature exploits just about every pattern that there is. What better place then, to learn about patterns, than outdoors in the natural world around us? 

Patterns are found everywhere in our daily existence.

Typically, we tend to think of patterns in basic terms- repeating a set of items (ABAB). But if you look closely, patterns are evident in all sorts of visible regularities of form in nature: the alternating colour stripes on a snail shell, the set of cresting waves in the ocean, the symmetry in the fronds of a fern leaf. Patterns really are all around us.  

Because patterns form part of our immediate surroundings, one can use this opportunity as an important teaching tool. I encourage you to take your lesson on patterns outside and to use the things in your immediate environment to teach this concept. 

Children learn to recognize, copy, extend and create patterns through daily activities. The learner will need to have sound grouping and sorting skills in order to grasp the concept of patterns.

4 Reasons why understanding pattern is important:

  • Pattern awareness identifies many different kinds of maths relationships.
  • Understanding patterns forms the basis of visual and auditory sequential memory which is needed for the sequence of counting.  
  • Being able to identify patterns helps with the understanding of operations (e.g. 2+3=5 and 3+2 =5)
  • The reasoning involved in processing patterns can be described as early algebraic thinking

Tips for teaching patterns:

  • Introduce the learner to a variety of repeating patterns, from AB/ABB/ABC to ABBC/ABCA etc.
  • Many learners misunderstand the main concept and only identify ABAB as a pattern and not a pattern such as ABBA as they are looking for alternation and not for longer sequences
  • Copying patterns is important. It helps the learner to focus on the similarities and differences. Ask questions such as “What is the same?” or “What is different?”
  • Some learners can copy a pattern successfully but are unable to extend it as they struggle to identify the unit of repeat. Learners who are good at pattern spotting can see the overall structure (i.e. the unit of repeat) and are able to identify the pattern rule.
  • When learners make their own patterns, a helpful question to ask is “What is the rule of your pattern?” or “What is your pattern called?”
  • Younger learners love action patterns (e.g. the “head, shoulders, knees and toes” song). They enjoy spotting the intentional errors of sequence as well as creating their own action patterns. They can then translate the pattern into pictures or symbols for further consolidation.
  • Older learners can learn effectively from “growing patterns” (e.g. a staircase, a stepladder, a pile of books increasing in height, a shopping list).

If pattern awareness is taught effectively during the early years, this can have positive effect on a child’s number concept in later years. The child’s ability to spot mathematical patterns is a prerequisite to and foundation skill for later numeracy tasks.

If patterns are taught using nature and the environment around a child, then children will learn to generalize patterns and their uses far beyond the classroom and to see their relevance in the world. This brings the teaching to life and makes it relevant and memorable. 

Looking for a great lesson plan on teaching patterns outdoors? Look no further! We asked Karen, Remedial Teacher and Blogger, to put together a lesson plan for you. Simply click HERE to access your lesson plan with a printable worksheet on TEACHERS TV. 

Showing page 1 of 0 pages

Blogger Profiles

  • Heleen Johnson

    Heleen Johnson is an Occupational Therapist with over 35 years of experience in the field of Education. Read more here.

  • Karen Leigh Benkenstein

    Karen Leigh Benkenstein is a fully qualified Foundation Phase Teacher, specializing in Special Needs children. She has taught children with a variety of educational and emotional barriers. Read more here.

  • Rachel Carey

    Rachel Carey has been working as a children's Occupational Therapist for the past 10 years. she has worked in both special needs and mainstream settings with children with a range of challenges and difficulties. Read more here.

  • Carla Kuhlmey

    Carla Kuhlmey taught in the Foundation Phase for 12 years before discovering a passion for helping learners with specific difficulties. She is currently working at a well known KZN Prep school as the Academic Support Teacher. She has been supporting parents and children at the school for the past 5 years.  

  • Charmaine Kendal

    With over 40 years of teaching and management experience, Charmaine Kendal has a wealth of wisdom to offer teachers.  The valuable lessons she has learned in the classroom and as deputy principal have equipped her with the skills to mentor and guide newly qualified teachers as well as to support more experienced staff. She is a published author, publishing youth literature and contributing to a number of textbooks. Charmaine has lectured education at tertiary level and has designed learning modules for education students. 

  • Lee Louw

    Lee Louw is a qualified pre-primary teacher with more than 20 years of experience. She has taught children from age 3 up to 8 as well as lecturing adults. She combines her work with Educanda with teaching ECD at a college. She has written 4 textbooks and 2 lecturers’ guides in the Educare field.