Finding Fall patterns

Identifying and creating patterns is a basic mathematical skill that is practiced in preschool and kindergarten classrooms.  A pattern is defined as a sequence that repeats at least one time with the repetition continuing through the entire sequence.  For example, you could create a basic AB pattern by alternating blue and red blocks (blue block, red block, blue block, red block, etc.) or an ABC pattern with a red block, blue block, yellow block, red block blue block, yellow block, etc.).  Once simple patterns are learned, more complex patterns can be recognized and created.  Patterns such as ABAC, ABBC or ABCD are examples of slightly more complex patterns.  Your child’s imagination can really soar when he creates his own patterns.  As long as the sequence repeats at least once and does not change, a pattern has been created.

Fall is an especially fun time to focus on patterns, since there are so many things in nature at this time of year that can be used to create patterns.  Leaves come in various colors, shapes and sizes and acorns and other tree seeds can be found on the ground and used to create patterns.  Taking a nature walk is a fun fall activity.  Ask your child to fill a paper bag with leaves, seeds and other things (stones, perhaps) that can be found outside as the weather turns a little cooler.  Once you return home, ask your child to spill out his “bag of goodies” and spread them out on a table.

Start by directing your child to choose two groups of items from the collections.  For instance, your child could choose red leaves and acorns, or yellow leaves and green leaves.  Once two groups have been selected, ask your child to create a line alternating items from the two groups to create an AB pattern.  The pattern can be 4, 6 or 8 items long to start.  Then reinforce the concept of patterns by asking your child to touch each item in the row and name it;  for instance he might say “red leaf, green leaf, red leaf, green leaf.”  Challenge him to create other AB patterns using different items.  Ask your child if he can use the two groups he selected to create a different pattern.  ABB or AAB patterns can be made with the same two groups of items.  Then suggest that he choose three groups of identical or similar items to create slightly more complicated patterns.  You can guide your child as he creates groups from his paper bag collection by suggesting he create groups of small leaves, red leaves, green leaves, large leaves, torn leaves, etc.  To illustrate, an ABC pattern can be created with a small leaf, acorn, large leaf, small leaf, acorn, large leaf.  As your child becomes more comfortable identifying and creating patterns, new and more complex patterns will emerge.  The options are limitless!

Additional practice with patterns can be found in the collection of pattern worksheets and activities

Kindergarten worksheets - Creating basic patterns and identifying patterns

The beginning level pattern worksheets and activities introduce the AB pattern and provide the missing shapes for your child to select.  Cut out the shapes at the bottom of the page.  Direct your child to point to each shape in a row and name the shape aloud.  Then ask him to continue the pattern by selecting the appropriate shape from the cutout options.  Saying a pattern aloud often helps young children identify the pattern.  After your child completes the first empty square, it may be helpful to have him repeat the pattern by starting at the beginning of the row, pointing and calling out the shapes in order until he reaches the second empty square.  Once both empty squares have been filled, ask your child to start once more at the beginning of the row and say the pattern aloud as he points to each shape to reinforce his learning and check his work. 

The intermediate and advanced pattern worksheets and activities require children to draw the missing shape or line in the empty spaces.  As before, ask your child to point to each shape and say the name.  (You can point to the various shapes in the row and name them for your child before he begins if he is unfamiliar with the shape name, or allow your child to name the shape by its color.)  Then ask your child to identify the missing shape and draw it on the blank line.  If drawing the shape is difficult for your child, you can ask him to do his best using the correct colored pencil, as the pattern will still be visible even if the shape he draws is not identical to that printed on the worksheet.  Since this is a pattern worksheet, your child’s drawing ability should not affect his ability to complete the worksheet.  If your child is uncomfortable trying to draw the shape, you may certainly draw it for him after he identifies which shape belongs on the blank line.  You can create additional patterning opportunities by copying some of the worksheets before your child completes them and cutting the shapes apart to act as “patterning pieces” that can be arranged in new patterns and then pasted on blank paper.

Enjoy the fall weather and have fun watching your child create interesting patterns!

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