Teaching early childhood students about patterns
So what's a pattern?
When teaching early childhood students about patterns, remember that to begin with they have no concept of what you want them to do. When asked to make a pattern, they may produce a random design like the illustration below, and say this is my pattern.
Copy or repeat patterns
To help children make sense of the idea of repeating patterns, call them "copy" patterns to begin with as most children have an understanding of this word.
- Use a long strip of white card about 18 inches (Mactac™ for frequent use).
- Attach the card to the table with tape, as little children shift it accidentally and will knock the pattern blocks off.
- Put a green dot on one end to signify, start here
- Put a red dot on the other end to show the child when to stop the pattern.
- Demonstrate a simple two color pattern first.
- As you place the blocks down say, "Yellow, orange, now we are going to copy or repeat, yellow, orange..."
- Continue until the whole tape is filled with yellow and orange blocks.
- Then ask the child to copy your pattern with the same color blocks.
- Have the children pick the next two colors and make the same ABAB two color pattern.
- When teaching preschool and kindergarten students, remember that some will need to practice the process above before they understand that the two colors are to be repeated.
When purchasing pattern blocks for teaching young students make sure you buy enough so that all children in the group have plenty to share. Having lots of blocks seems to stop the tendency for children to grab or horde the blocks! Buy blocks through Amazon.com at the link below.