KT (age 4) was drawing the fish tank in our classroom. An amazing rendition for her young age, but what I really noticed was the symmetrical pattern. THIS girl can count goldfish in a bowl! She just organizes them into a pattern first! Love it!
Patterns are a precursor to all early math. Some of us may think this is obvious, but some of us might not realize that most math is all about recognizing patterns, solving patterns that aren’t quite complete or that are missing a part. We create patterns for memorization of all basic math facts. While our English language seems to take delight in disrupting patterns and breaking rules, math is always the same, always predictable, always follows a pattern. I love math. I love teaching math to young children. I think it’s because of the patterns. I love patterns.
Most people, including kids, will recognize patterns intuitively at least to some degree. But we emphasize patterns here at TK because I feel that strong patterning skills really help children transition into mathematical reasoning more easily. We usually start teaching a combination of auditory/visual patterns, and often (interestingly enough) very young kids can hear a pattern before they can see a pattern. You can show a young child a series of blocks aligned in an “A,B” pattern (red, blue, red, blue, red…) and ask them which block comes next, and if they are new to the game, they quite possibly won’t understand what you are asking. But if you point to the blocks and SAY the pattern out loud, often they will hear the pattern as you repeat it verbally, and then they will be able to tell you the next color in the series.
So, combined with the fact that I am personally tremendously fascinated by the beauty of patterns, and the fact that recognition of patterns is a very good foundational math skill to teach our children, here at TK we start pointing out patterns, and playing with patterns, at a very young age; as early as 2 years old. When we see something with a pattern we show it to the kids, point out how it is a pattern, and we exclaim how pretty it is (that’s my opinion showing through!). If the kids are playing with blocks or Legos or any toy with colors, sizes or shapes, I will often play beside them and build a pattern out of the toys and point it out. Even if they don’t want to build a similar pattern (or any pattern, for that matter), they are seeing the pattern, and seeing that it has some importance. Soon they will start imitating pattern building, and we all recognize their attempts, and we commend them. Patterns are highly valued here at TK! Here are some examples:
SS, age 7, an amazing use of Zentangle styled patterns.
TS, age 4, patterning a lizard outline.
TS, age 4, creating an amazing pattern during our free-choice art time. The theme was “White”, but he went above and beyond expectations.
SM, age 8, does a superb job Zentangling her tie-dyed shoes during our summer shoe design project.
“Mosaic Blue” is one of my favorite activity boxes, as it inspires some beautiful pattern creation. RH, age 7, has stepped up to the challenge!
Sand, a triangular tray, and a fork. SS, age 7, experiments with these tools to create some cool patterns.
RW eyeing his snack! Another opportunity for a pattern. We actually set hexagonal pattern blocks down and placed the teddy grahams around the hexagon in a pattern. (Also teaches how many sides a hexagon has, in a delicious way!)
RH, age 6, creates a beautiful pattern by simply pouring sand carefully.
Spoon, napkin, plate, spoon, napkin, plate…CD (age 5) and TO (age 4) intuitively create patterns as they play with our toy dishes.
Patterns are everywhere in our world. I am fascinated by all patterns, and especially patterns in nature. I love to photograph patterns, and revel in their perplexity and yet simple repetition. Patterns soothe me. I don’t quite know how to put it into words, but God creates order in my world through the patterns that I see in nature. I seek them out and photograph them at every opportunity. I also love to try to imitate patterns in nature when I draw. Patterns are music for my eyes.
Click here if you would like to see more of my artwork.
I share my love for patterns with the kids and share, every time I find an interesting one:
Concentric Circles vs. parallel lines
A Fibonnaci Sequence. How do I know that? Because my Great Math Expert (GME) friend just told me! See in the comments below.
If you would like to download a FREE seasonal pattern activity for your children, click this image and go to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.