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Why do we teach patterns?
Patterns are everywhere. They are all around us; in nature, in words, in songs, in movement… everywhere.
Patterns are also a fundamental part of maths. Learning to recognise patterns helps children to make connections, make predictions and begin to understand how different things work together. By understanding patterns, children are laying down those first steps towards understanding and recognising patterns in numbers and equations.
For the last couple of weeks we have been looking at patterns and shapes; recognising, copying, creating and extending patterns. We’ve been asking:
What comes next?
Can you see a pattern?
Can you continue this pattern?
What predictions can you make?
Can you create a pattern?
Here’s some of the things we have been exploring lately. We started by looking at shapes and talking about their characteristics. We looked at shapes in nature and shapes in our home.
Jack and Sarah ran around the house collecting different things for a shapes hunt, collecting all kinds of interesting materials from spools to a ukulele.
I created a shapes feely bag using our window blocks (a rectangle, square, triangle and circle) for Jack and Sarah to explore. Without looking, Jack and Sarah would reach their hand into a calico bag and search around for a particular shapes. They really enjoyed this little game.
A simple art project was creating shapes with yarn and cellophane. Jack and Sarah cut the yarn to the size they wanted then shaped them onto contact paper before filling them with cellophane. From there we started to look at 3D shapes; matching them to their 2D counterpart. We looked particularly at cubes, spheres, pyramids and cones. We looked at their characteristics and created our own with playdough and rods. We spent some time looking at wooden geometric shapes; characterising them, comparing and sorting. In these photos, Jack and Sarah have sorted the shapes according to which ones will roll; identifying flat and curved surfaces. This week we have been looking at patterns; what pattern can they see? What can they create? What can they predict? Our Spielgaben set has been getting quite the work out this week; lots of creating with shapes. Today we did something really fun. I really enjoyed watching Jack and Sarah work with this little activity. After spending quite a bit of time playing with the transparent triangles on the light panel, I thought Jack would enjoy creating his own geometric collage.
I cut equilateral triangles out of pages from some old Australian Geographic magazines and set them out with some craft glue. The colours looked beautiful.
He dove straight in, creating beautiful collages. Sarah too, working hard to dot just a little glue on each corner. So that’s a little of what we have been doing with maths lately. Nice and hands-on. I have some more ideas for exploring patterns; we’ve been looking at patterns in nature with this book and I would like to extend that more; maybe on a large scale. I’m thinking about maybe a photography project. Jack’s been using his camera a lot again lately and this might be a nice way to include that interest too.
Here’s some of the materials we’ve been enjoying: