Putting on Patterns - Exploring Simple Patterns

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SWBAT identify, complete and create a variety of simple patterns.

Big Idea

Understanding patterns is an important foundation for learning mathematical concepts. In this lesson, students not only work with patterns, they become the pattern!


10 minutes

Kindergarten students love exploring patterns.  Once students become aware of patterns, they are searching for them everywhere!  That search is an important one as they are developing important skills that support Mathematical Practice Standards.  In this lesson, students will be working learning how to look for and make use of structure (MP7)  The will also have the opportunity to quantitatively model with mathematics (MP4) and reason abstractly (MP2).   By developing a student's ability to identify, complete and recreate patterns, I am helping them build a foundation for other mathematical skills like skip counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, working with fractions and much more.

 For today's opening, you will need to print a copy of the classroom book, "Pat the Park Ranger Loves Patterns", that is included as the resource Pete the Park Ranger.  I prefer to use a color printer and laminate the book for durability.  I then bind it with a plastic comb, but staples and rings would also work.   The last page of the file includes pieces for the book that will need Velcro hooks applied to the back of them.  Apply pieces of "fuzzy" Velcro in the empty spaces on each page and at the bottom of the page so the pieces can be easily moved (see photo). 

The students in my class have had some exposure to patterns already.  We practice patterns on a daily basis with our calendar and other projects.  My students are quite firm on AB patterns, and have had exposure to AB, ABB, ABC, but this will be their first formal lesson on patterns.

To begin today's lesson, I gather the students by my big chair and show them the cover of the book.  I read the title for them.  To help the students make connections and activate prior knowledge, I say to the students, "Do you know what a park ranger is?" Most of my students are familiar with park rangers. They know that a park ranger runs a park and often work with animals.  Once we have discussed park rangers, in general, I let them know that there is something pretty special about this park ranger. I say, "He likes patterns!  We like patterns too!!!  Let's read our story and find out more about Park Ranger Pat."

I begin by reading the first page to the students.  I then turn to the next page and read it to the students.  "Okay bears and foxes; let’s make an A-B pattern!"  I then go through the pattern on the page saying, Bear-fox, Bear-Fox.  I am wondering if anyone knows what comes next?  I call on a student to come up to the book and move the correct animal to the square on the page.  After a student places the correct animal on the page, I invite the students to say the pattern with me, Bear-fox, bear-fox, bear-fox...I then say to the students, this is an A-B pattern.  We can give each animal a letter.  The bear is A, so what is the fox?  That's right.  It is B.   When I touch the bear, I say A and when I touch the fox, I say B.  Let's do that together, A-B-A-B-A-B.  Great!

I then read, the next page to the students. We discuss what is happening on the page.

I continue on to the next page of the book, I read it to the students  Now I need alligators and ducks; let’s make an A-A-B pattern! I go through the pattern on the page, touching each animal and saying its name, alligator-alligator-duck, alligator-alligator, duck, alligator.  Who can come up and put the correct animals to finish the pattern?  I invite a student to come up and put the correct animals on the page.  I then invite the students to say the pattern with me, alligator-alligator-duck, alligator-alligator-duck.  After we say the pattern together, I ask the students,  If this is an A-A-B pattern, what animal is the A?  Right!  So what is the duck?  Right again!  We then say the letters A-A-B, A-A-B.  I ask the students to make a prediction about what animal might cause the ranger some trouble.  This allows us to integrate a reading comprehension strategy into our math lesson.

I continue reading the book in this fashion, inviting the students to come up and complete the pattern.  It is important that they say the animals and the letters with me to reinforce the patterns.

After we complete the story, we move over to the SMARTBoard to continue our lesson. 


15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my Smartboard.  If you have a Smartboard, the Working with Patterns file can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  Click here to download. There is also a Working with Patterns file of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson.

I gather my students in front of the Smartboard.  I have cards with each student's name printed on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.

I open the first slide (Smartboard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques (Click here to learn more about SIOP). I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective
I can identify, complete and create an AB, AAB, AABB and ABC pattern.

Language Objective
I can tell a friend the name of a pattern and what comes next.


Slide 2:  I say to the students, this is an AB pattern.

Slide 3:  On this slide I say, Every red circle is A.  Every green circle is B.  I point to each circle and say..A-B-A-B, etc.

Slide 4:  I then ask the students what comes next in the pattern.  I have a stack of cards with each of the students' names printed on.  I use these cards to call students up to the board.  I select a student's card and call them to the board.  The student uses a finger to drag a circle into the box to show what comes next.  Using the back of the fingernail works best, but if students have difficulty dragging the circle, try using a tennis ball to drag items.

After the students drags the shape up, we say the colors of the pattern together to check the student's work, red-green, red-green, etc.  We then say the letters A-B, A-B, A-B.

Slide 5:  On this slide I say, This is an AAB pattern.  I advance to the next slide.

Slide 6:  Every purple circle is A.  Every orange circle is B.  I again have the students say the letters with me.

Slide 7:  I then ask the students if they can complete the pattern.  Using the cards, I call another student to come to the board and complete the pattern.  Even though there is two squares, I have only one students come forward because I want the students to think of the pattern as a group.  In the past, I have tried having multiple students come up to the board and there were more errors because they seemed to focus on the color before, not on the entire pattern.  To engage the students I have them check their classmate's work by giving a thumbs up.

Slide 8:  On this slide, I say, this is an AABB pattern.

Slide 9: I say,  Every blue circle is an A.  Every yellow circle is a B.   I point to the shapes and have the students join with me saying A-A-B-B, A-A-B-B.

Slide 10:  I again have a student come up to the board to complete the pattern.

Slide 11:  This one is going to be harder!  Now there are three different colors.  This is an ABC pattern.

Slide 12:  Every A is blue.  Every B is red and every C is yellow.  Again, I point to the shapes and have the students say the letters.

Slide 13:  I use the cards to select another student to come up to the board.

Slide 14:  Now, let's see if we can make some patterns of our own.  I select a student to come up to the board and make an AB pattern.  After the pattern is completed, we say the name of the animals and then the letters.  If a student makes a mistake, I write the letters, A, B, etc. above the animals and then have them check below to see if the animals match up to the letters.

Slides, 14, 15, and 16:  I continue the same as slide 14 above.

Slide 17:  Now it is "turn and talk" time.  I ask the students to get with their assigned "turn and talk" partner.  The first question I ask them is. "What kind of pattern is this?"  I give them some time to talk.  When they are done, I ask for a volunteer to share what they decided.  I then repeat the answer in a sentence, "It is an AABB pattern."  I invite the students to repeat the sentence with me, "It is an AABB pattern."  I then ask the students what comes next in the pattern.  After discussion time, I call on a student to share.  I again repeat the answer as a complete sentence, "A red circle comes next in the pattern."  The students repeat the answer.  This exchange helps my English Language Learners to build their vocabulary and learn about English syntax.  A command of a mathematics vocabulary is so important, but students do not often get the opportunity to use the mathematical terms they are exposed to during the lesson.  By purposefully building an opportunity to use the vocabulary, the mathematical terms become the students'.  I build on this with my discussions with students.  For example, I don't just look at their papers when they are done with their work.  Time permitting, I ask them questions that they can answer with terms that builds their mathematical vocabulary. 

I then give the students some directions.  I tell them, At your seats are some t-shirts.  When we go back to our seats, we are going to put the t-shirts on and have a seat to wait for directions.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need some old t-shirts.  By shopping local thrift shops on their bargain days, I was able obtain a collection for this lesson.  I dyed some white t-shirts red.  I was able to find enough black t-shirts.  Black and red are our school colors.  I put the shirts at the students spots prior to the lesson.

After the students have their shirts on, I tell them, We are going to make some patterns just like we did on the Smartboard, but instead of having shapes or animals has the patterns, YOU are going to be the patterns.  Some of you are red and some of you are black.  Those are our ROCORI Spartan School colors.  I am going to divide you into two groups and have you create some patterns. 

I then divide the class into two groups and have them move into open areas in the classroom.  I give each group a card (included as a PDF file with this lesson).  The cards say what pattern the students are to make.  I start off simple, giving them the AB pattern card.

I say to them, Now, I want you to read the pattern that is on the card.  I then want you to make the pattern on the card.  Work together to make the pattern. 

I assist the students as needed.  After the pattern is completed, I have each group first say the colors of their pattern (red-black-red-black).  I then have them say the letters.

The next pattern is the AABB pattern.  After that pattern we do the, ABB pattern.  The students of course, run out of Bs.  I encourage problem solving.  How can we make this work.  What if one group had the As be black and the other group have the As be red.  Could we trade some people between the groups to make the pattern? I help them as needed.

Now we are ready to go on to the ABC pattern.  I ask the students if they can complete this pattern with the red and black shirts.  They answer, "NO!".  I then ask how we could make the pattern.  With some coaxing, the students come up with the idea of adding another color.  Of course, I have some white t-shirts ready to swap out.  We then make the ABC pattern.  When they are done the students say the colors and letters as before.

After the last pattern, I ask the students to take off the shirts and put them in the bag on the floor and return to their seats for instructions.

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

15 minutes

There are several items that will need to be prepared prior to the lesson.  This part of the lesson consists of four pattern "centers".  The following is what is needed for each center.


Center One:  Bingo daubers and Dauber Pattern Sheet (included with this lesson).

Center Two: Star Patterns (included with the lesson) and foil star sticker (I purchase these from the dollar store).  I run the sheet on a color printer.  If you do not have that option available, the sheet could easily be altered by using different types of stickers like color coding dots--dot, star, dot star.  Stickers are great for developing fine motor skills/pincer grasp. 

Center Three:  Adding machine tape rolls, large stamps and stamp pads.

Center Four:  Mini stamper markers and Mini stamper pattern sheet (included with lesson).  The mini stampers are from Crayola.  They look like markers but actually have a small stamp on the bottom.  I ordered mine from Amazon.  I use them in small groups.  Each student only needs 3 markers for this activity, about 3 packs provides more than enough stampers.

Differentiation Strategies I divide the students into four groups.  One group is students who need basic skills in patterning and usually need more assistance. This group will work with the special education teacher who works with my students.  There are two groups of students who are at grade level and one group that consists of advanced learners.   Note the difficulty of each activity listed below.  I always have the students begin with the activity at their skill level.  They are given the opportunity to complete additional activities, but I want them to have practice with skills at their level.

I explain each center to the students.  I tell them they are going to be working with groups to create some patterns. 

Center One:  You will need a dauber sheet and bingo daubers.  Read what pattern is being asked for at the top of each row.  Use the daubers to make the pattern.  Make sure you start at the top of the page to not smear the ink.  When you are done, put it on top of your locker to dry.  I do have some sheets made that have some hints to help you if you need it.  (Skill:  Creating Specific Patterns, Skill Level:  At Grade Level.   This can be a Developing Skill Level if you give hints to the students on the dauber sheet.  See the Dauber Pattern Sheet with Hints).

Center Two:  I have a sheet that has rows of star patterns.  I need to select the correct stars to finish the pattern.  I stick them on the blank stars on the sheet.  When I am all done, I need to figure out what kind of pattern I just completed and write the name of the pattern.  I might need to write letters above stars to help me. (Skill:  Complete and Identifying Patterns, Skill Level:  At Grade Level)

Center Three:  This will station will be a lot of fun.  I have rolls of paper.  Each of you will get a roll of a paper.  There are stamp pads and stamps.  You will take a card out of the basket and read the pattern.  Write the name of the pattern at the beginning of your paper and then use the stamps to make the pattern.  To give us enough room to work, we will be in the hallway.  (Skill  Creating Specific Patterns, Skill Level:  At Grade Level).

Center Four:  I have something new for us to use today.  They are called mini stampers.  They look like markers but they are actually stamps.  You hold them straight up and down, the same way we do when we use our pencil erasers with.  You have three different markers.  You can use the markers to create any pattern that we have learned.  Stamp in each box.  I could do an A-B pattern by using the green stamper, then the blue stamper.  I need to write what kind of pattern I made in the space provided.  (Skill Creating and Identifying Variety of Patterns --open ended, students can create patterns that were not covered in class, Skill Level:  Advanced)


The students then go into their groups to work.  I circulate throughout the groups to assist and assess their knowledge.  I make sure to have them say the letters as they touch each element in their patterns.  Depending on how long the students need to complete the statements, this lesson could be stopped halfway through the center time and the activities can be revisited later.