June 29, 2012

Teaching Patterning?

I saw an acquaintance post a picture from a math conference on her Facebook wall a few days ago and it is all I have been thinking about ever since. Her caption to the picture said, "this is the way we need to be teaching patterns, so that the kids understand that a pattern is not "what comes next" a pattern is a series that goes on infinitely." So, instead of asking what ONE thing comes next, we should be asking  students to continue the pattern through the end of the pattern unit. Am I losing you? Here is an example

in this picture, we are asking the students to find what comes next. Just one piece of the pattern. In essence, we are telling them the pattern is "A" rather than having them practice that the pattern unit is "AB" such as in the example below. 

Here, students see that "A" and "B" always go together. I think that this is just a minor tweak to our teaching that has long lasting repercussions for later math when students will have to work with more complex patterns.

So, how do you teach patterning? Do you already talk about the pattern unit or are you asking, "what comes next? 

I am so passionate about giving my students a strong mathematical foundation. Listening to speakers like Greg Tang and attending Singapore math conferences have really changed the way I think about math as an adult.  I am so excited for the opportunity to "get in on the ground floor" of the our students mathematical learning. I was always frustrated as a third grade teacher that I didn't have the time to go back and really teach kids number bonds so they could develop number sense. It was a constant uphill battle to get them to generalize with numbers and see the bigger picture. I pray I can do right by my kindergarten friends. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I will be back tomorrow with a patterning activity... if you don't already follow me, please consider doing so. I will have lots of freebies to offer this summer!

Happy Friday,


  1. I like how you teach patterning. I think it's definitely important to make sure that they see the pattern as a chunk & not just what comes next. Great tips! Love your blog!
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

    1. Thanks! I am headed over to visit you!

  2. I agree, that number sense is really important. It just makes me mad how much we are required to teach in a year (even in Kinder) and that part sometimes doesn't get the attention it should. I also apply the concept of patterns to other things-science, stories, etc. so they really understand the concept of it. I'm your newest follower! :)


    1. Yes, we have to sneak in math skills everywhere we can!!! Thank you for following me. I am going to check out your blog next!