Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about patterns. It is designed to complement the Patterns topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Patterns are great ways to introduce and develop algebraic thinking. Encourage your children to build patterns and experiment in different ways by using shapes, colors, sounds, or movements. Challenge your children to find patterns all around them, in their surroundings, on their clothes, or even in music. Help them to identify the unit that repeats in the pattern and predict what comes next.

Review with your children that a pattern is something that repeats over and over again. Patterns can use colors, shapes, sizes, sounds, and movements, as in dance routines. Show different examples of patterns and encourage your children to find them on their own. Then go through different patterns of movement, such as alternating jumping jacks with hopping once. You can also create sound patterns together by stomping, clapping, snapping, and tapping. If possible, play music for your children or bring in examples of music and have children identify the pattern.

Encourage your children make their own patterns using two to four elements in a unit. They can use pattern blocks, different colored marbles or counters, or other small objects. They can also draw pictures or draw or paint stripes of different colors. Instruct them to select two to four items or colors, and arrange them in a specific order. This is their unit of pattern. Then have them build the pattern by repeating the unit over and over again. Have your children practice creating patterns using a variety of materials and challenge them to break the patterns into individual units. Then, ask them to begin patterns for someone else to continue. Help your children to identify what type of pattern they have created: ABAB, ABC, ABB, or others.

Present a simple pattern to your children and have them figure out what comes next. Guide them to look for the individual unit first. Then follow the pattern with the unit in mind to figure out what comes next. They may want to take notes, use words or sounds, or draw pictures to help them keep track of items in the pattern. For example, when using a sound pattern, such as clap, clap stomp, clap, clap, stomp, clap, clap, stomp, children can write down what happens in words, use abbreviations, or use colors or counters to represent each movement. Then help them read their symbols to figure out what comes next; a clap!

Draw or use shapes to create a pattern, but leave one shape out. Ask your children to find the missing shape. Guide them to find the unit and see where the missing shape falls in the sequence. Invite children to create their own missing shape patterns and take turns guessing. This activity promotes algebraic thinking and problem solving skills.

Patterns are everywhere! There are plenty of examples found in nature, such as stripes on a zebra or the arrangement of petals on a flower. Encourage your children to explore the world around them and see math in unexpected places.