What Are Patterns?
Patterns are predictable repetitions. You can see, hear, or act out a pattern when sights, sounds, or movements repeat in predictable ways.
- Colors: blue, red, purple, blue, red, purple
- Shapes: triangle, triangle, square, triangle, triangle, square, triangle, triangle, square
- Sounds: clap, snap, clap, snap, clap, snap
- Objects: car, truck, car, truck, car, truck
- Motions: jump, squat, turn around, jump, squat, turn around, jump, squat, turn around
A pattern unit is the core part of the sequence that repeats. In these examples, notice how the pattern unit (for example, car, truck) repeats two or more times. This is because it takes at least two complete repetitions of a pattern unit to be able to identify what the pattern unit is and what comes next.
Why Is Learning About Patterns Important?
Learning simple, repeating patterns helps us identify patterns in our world, such as the seasons, life cycles, and base-10 number system. Patterns help us predict what will happen, such as what day comes after Tuesday. The ability to work with and create patterns can help children learn algebra and more advanced math when they are older.
What Do Children Need to Know About Patterns?
Children need to know how to:
- Recognize patterns: “I see a pattern!”
- Describe patterns in words: “The pattern is spoon, fork, fork, spoon, fork, fork.”
- Copy patterns that someone else has made.
- Fill in missing parts of patterns: “The pattern goes red, yellow, green, red, yellow, green, red, yellow … What comes next?”
- Recognize equivalent patterns: “This blanket with red and blue stripes has the same pattern as that one with green and white stripes.”
- Extend patterns: “We need a blue block next.”
- Create their own patterns with objects, movements, or sounds.