Design a Pattern

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SWBAT design a pattern with a set number of pattern blocks and compare the number of designs made by the class.

Big Idea

Students explore the concepts that a variety of designs can be made from a set number of shapes .

NGSS Connections and Class Preparation

30 minutes

NGSS Standards

2-PS1-3  Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object. 

PS1.A  A great variety of objects can be built up from a small set of pieces

Students use a set number of pattern blocks to create different designs.

Science Practices

- Developing and Using Models (SP 2)

Students use a set number of pattern blocks to create different designs. This model helps students explore how many different objects can be created from a few pieces.

- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Students compare their pattern block designs to construct an explanation that many pattern block designs can be created from a set number of pattern blocks.

Lesson Preparation

Decide the pattern black shapes and number of shapes that will make a set. Could use legos or other building materials.

My pattern block set will include: 1 hexagaon, 4 triangles, 2 trapezoids, 4 rhombuses, 2 squares and 2 parallelograms.

Bag a set of pattern blocks for each student.

Make a pattern block template of the set, if students transfer their pattern to display on a bulletin board.

Copy the pattern block set on card stock

Collect paper plates for each student. (Students will use the card stock pattern blocks and glue to the paper plate)


paper plates

pattern blocks


glue sticks

dividers to allow students to work on their projects individually

Great reference for the Periodic Table of Elements: I have included this because later in the lesson, I make a connection to the set number of elements on the periodic table are combined to make most of the materials found on Earth to the pattern block designs, a set number of pattern blocks are can  create at least 24 different designs. 

Question for the Day

10 minutes

Science starts with a question, usually written on the board. This allows time for students to consider today's topic before the lesson has officially begun.  I have established this routine to keep transition time short and effective and redirect student's attention back to content while allowing time for focused peer interaction.

I project a set of pattern blocks that each student will work with.

Question for the Day: If each of have the same number and same shapes of pattern blocks could each of you make a different design? Why?

I read the question to the students and point to the pattern blocks. Students turn and share their idea with their partner. I listen to student reasons. When I see students turning back to face me, I ask, "So you agree we could make 2 different designs? 3?"

Volunteers share their reasons, which I write on the board.

"What if you had this one hexagon to work with? How many different designs could we make? What if you had the hexagon and a triangle. How many different designs could you make?"

I present these questions because I want the students to discuss if the design would be the same depending on which side the triangle shared with the hexagon. This will help set the parameters for the class's definition of a different and unique design.

Depending on student engagement, I may pursue this line of discussion by adding one more triangle or square.

"O.K. it sounds like you have come up with some properties that describe a unique and different design."

I write student ideas on the board and allow time for students to discuss and revise the design properties.

Students agreed that if the shape could be rotated to look like the other shape it was the same. The class agreed that the shapes needed to touch either side to side or vertex.

"I have one property that I would like to add to our list, every design must have a hexagon in the middle."

Most students addressed the 'hexagon in the middle' criteria. I originally included this criteria because I wanted to keep the designs compact if the kiddos were going to transfer the designs to paper plates.

Next time I would leave the paper plates out and hexagon criteria out. Students could make the design on construction paper.

"Hmm now that we have the properties for a unique and different design, I think it is time for you to give it a try!

Please return to your desk and I will pass out your materials and explain the next steps."


Building Top Secret Designs and Gallery Walk

20 minutes

"To give you a chance to work out your own design, and not have to concern yourself if you are making a design different than your neighbors, I will pass out the dividers so that you can focus on your design first. Then when everyone is done, we will remove the dividers to share your designs."

I pass out the dividers, paper plates and pattern blocks. To save time the pattern blocks have already been sorted into individual baggies.

As students work on creating their designs, I walk around the room to view designs and answer questions.

"I see that most of you are about finished with your design. Everyone has 5 more minutes to finish your design and then the dividers come down!"

I pick up the dividers and invite students to go on a gallery walk and tally how many different designs they see.

Some students chose to make a T-chart to keep a record of the designs that were different vs. the same.

I remind them not to touch any of their classmates' designs. I encourage students whose designs might be the same to discuss with their classmate to see if it is possible to change something in one of the designs to make it different.

All the kiddos had different designs.

When students are finished with their gallery walk, I signal students to the rug to share observations and to write a class conclusion.

Our Conclusion/ Design Connections and the Elemental Chart

10 minutes

It is amazing how many designs you came up with. They are beautiful!"

"Now that you have gone on your gallery walk to view each other's design, can we answer the question of the day?"

Students share their ideas with their should partner. Then I signal their attention.

"So if we were to write a conclusion, we could start with your answer. Let's write a class conclusion to hang with our pattern block design."

I use questions to help students develop our class conclusion.

"Why do think we were able to make more designs than pieces of pattern blocks?

Do you think there an infinite number of ways to make patterns with these pattern blocks?


I refer to the class 'conclusion anchor chart' as the conclusion statement is drafted onto tab board.

Through this process I scaffold the concept that from a few pieces we were able to create a number of designs.

Art time is used to transfer student pattern designs to 2D pattern block templates. The designs are glued to a paper plate. Or photographs could be taken of the designs for students to redesign later, or the photos could be published.

Students' work and the class conclusion will be posted on a bulletin board.

Optional Part of the Lesson

I introduce the elemental chart. "Remember when we talked about the chemical name for water, h2o, and salt, NaCl? If you look on the chart, we can find the parts that make the water and salt.

"Chemists and nature combine these elements to make all the things you see around you, the materials and objects. Just like you were able to combine the pattern blocks to make different designs, the elements combine to make solids, liquids and gases."