Kindergartners love **patterns**. Or should I say "pat-ter-ens." They're super fun! But what they don't know is that they are an essential building block in their understanding about numbers. What starts out in kindergarten as making pretty designs with pattern blocks eventually leads to skip counting, repeated addition (and therefore multiplication and division), algebraic reasoning, and beyond! So it's important that we provide them with a solid foundation.

Day 1

I want my students to recognize patterns in many different contexts. I want them to understand that red...red..green is the same as orange...orange...blue...is the same as big...big...little.

For this activity, I make several patterns on large pieces of chart paper and place them on tables around the room. I divide the students into pairs and give them different math tools. Their challenge is to go around the room and create the different patterns with *their* own math tools.

I try to make sure the math tools I provide are different sizes and shapes so that they cannot just place their own tools on top of my pattern. I want them to find the **pattern core** and then recreate it on their own.

You can extend this activity by having the students create their own patterns in their math journals and then seeing how many different ways they can make the same pattern...different colors, shapes, etc.

Day 2

I debate every year over whether or not to teach my students how to name patterns using letters. My concern is that they will come to associate patterns with * letters* and not see their connection to

*. But it is an easy way to identify patterns, especially when I'm pushing them to create different patterns. Some kids will create LOTS of AAB patterns...red-red-orange...green-green-blue...circle-circle-square. When I ask them to create a different pattern--they say,*

**numbers****If we can name them with letters, they eventually see that they are actually the same.**

*"But they ARE different!"*So my compromise is to teach them how to do it, but to make it very clear that this is just ONE way that they can *name* patterns. I start by having a student create a pattern in the pocket chart. Then I have different students recreate that same pattern using different math tools. Eventually, I will give a student a set of letter cards and have them recreate the pattern with those.

Next I challenge the students to find the core of the patterns.

I explain that a simple way to give a pattern a name is to just refer to the core, because if we know that, then we can make that pattern as long as we want. We could name the pattern any of these options: green-yellow; square-circle; hexagon-square. But a very simple, and popular way to name a pattern is with letters: A-B.

We make some more challenging patterns and name them in the same way. But I make sure to stress that we could just as easily name this pattern chicka-boom-boom-splat. ABBC is just a convenient way that they may be asked to use throughout their school years.

Day 3

As much fun as we have making patterns out of pattern blocks and macaroni and stamps and shapes--**we cannot forget numbers!** I start this lesson by simply asking the kids to make patterns with numbers. Some kids use actual numbers, some kids make repeating groups of objects (and, of course, some kids don't know where to begin). We share and discuss the different ideas the kids have and base our discussion on them.

I eventually make a simple pattern like the AAAB pattern below. Then I ask the kids what would happen if I counted how many of each color were in each "group." We recreate the same pattern using connecting cubes and place them vertically in the pocket chart.

Then we count the cubes and put the corresponding number under each tower.

And then we discuss it--Is it a pattern? Does it repeat? Is it easy to tell what comes next? What is the core?

I give the kids connecting cubes and challenge them to create their own number patterns. Then I have them record them on a grid paper for their math journals.

Download Can you make a number pattern Grid

Day 4

Here, I challenge the kids to apply what they have learned about patterns to solve a problem. Remember--*resist the urge to show the kids how to solve the problem. *Read the problem, discuss it, provide them with a varity of tools and see what happens. Make sure to circulate among your students and guide them with questioning and gentle nudges. And then come together during mathematician's chair to have the kids explain the different ways they solved it.

Day 5

Here is similar problem. You can, of course, adjust the numbers or difficulty of the pattern to fit the needs of your own class (the example below is actually different than the one on the label). You can also solve these problems together as a group (although you need to sit back and let the kids take the lead!)

Bonus Activity

I always like to reward my kids at the end of a unit with something fun. In this case, I let them make **bracelets** out of pony beads and chenille stems. The beads are our school colors. Of course, the bracelet MUST be a pattern.

You can also have them record it in their math journals by drawing the pattern and naming the core.

We are not done with patterns, yet. We will continue to revist them throughout the year in many contexts. And we will explore number patterns (specifically growing and shrinking patterns) in a few weeks.

You are a wonderful resource and I love hearing your thinking! Thank you for also sharing the link for the download so I can use along with my kindergarten class too!! I am loving your blog.

Posted by: imafarmgirl | 08/03/2011 at 09:52 PM

I love these patterning ideas! I especially like how you've written questions to include patterning, problem solving, and ordinal numbers. Wow! Talk about Bloom's Taxonomy!! Can't wait to try this with my kiddos!

Posted by: Suzanne Huber | 08/05/2011 at 04:36 PM

I love how to do your patterning! I also love the Math Journal where the students have to think of more ways to make the same pattern. I can't wait to try this!!!

Posted by: Margie Cioci | 08/05/2011 at 07:09 PM

I think these ideas are great! Wonderful break down!

Posted by: Margaret | 08/05/2011 at 08:03 PM

I love your ideas! I am homeschooling and these are great for my daughter. Thank you for posting. Will you have more weeks to come?

Posted by: Holly | 08/24/2011 at 04:41 PM

I googled "Kindergarten Math Journals" and and came to your site-yeah! I found exactly what I was looking for. For the first time, I will be using math journals. I just needed some visuals to get me going and started. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Andrea Chouhan | 08/30/2011 at 08:43 PM

Thank you for your progression of patterns (and LOVE your use of colour and size in your font!). Are the questions that you pose in the orange/tan boxes the same questions your students glue into their math journals?

Posted by: Leeanne | 09/23/2012 at 02:15 AM

We start patterns tomorrow. This is AWESOME! Thanks!

Posted by: Karin Weber | 09/30/2012 at 07:05 PM

Love it!!! Thank you!!! I am really very bad at math. Although, I have to admit, now that I'm almost 30 and trying to teach my own young children, I think I just never had a teacher attempt such fun, hands on ways of teaching. I am a very hands on learner.

I bought a beginning Math book for my oldest, whom is 5. I was looking threw the program and I came to the first week, last day, last problem. It says, "name this pattern" What?? I looked in the answer key and of course found ababab. What???? I knew I'd learn with my son, but not the first week! And in a pre-k word book!

I googled it and found you. Thank you so much! I am looking forward to this unit with my son. You seem very fun and creative. Thank you for sharing this and teaching me! A 28 year old mom who is hoping her children will have awesome teachers like you! But if they don't, I of course must make up for it. Thanks for helping me be a better mom!!!

Posted by: Jenny | 02/24/2013 at 11:19 PM