Thursday, 3 October 2013

Patterning in grade two

Today was our first formal lesson in patterning.  What I mean by that is we have been discussing patterns but more in the context of number sense, where we have been learning to count by twos, fives and tens, as well as, doubling numbers. This type of talk has been focused on the magnitude of numbers and associated with place value not so much on growing and shrinking of patterns.

So today we started with a problem that was asking the students to sort eight sets of (patterns and none-patterns) into two categories, a yes it is a pattern and a no it is not a pattern. I have attached the patterns down below.

It was very interesting conversation around this. At first the students put only the repeating patterns in the yes category stating that for it tone a pattern then it had to repeat. I had to remind them about the book we read called patterns big and small. In this book they had a set of nesting dolls, I'm asked the kids did that pattern repeat? After that discussion the kids where better off explaining their reasons for their groupings.

I really liked this question because it made the students really think about what a pattern is and what attributes are needed to make a pattern. They obviously had worked with patterns in grade one but mainly with repeating patterns, which is why they at first they only made piles with repeating numbers.  The non-patterns are also helpful because they can assist us with thinking about what attributes a pattern doesn't have and therefore in the end has.

Today we are going to be working on the justifying of their answers and then coming up with a definition of what a pattern is and is not.  If your grade two or any grade for that matter I highly recommend this type of problem for your class.

For the patterns we used click on this link:



  1. I think it's a great example of how a 3 part lesson can be used in vocabulary/concept attainment. I picture the justification talk as including specific mathematics where possible...e.g. adds 3 each time, or add 1, subtract 1). Perhaps consider part 3 could be all of your twos generating their own pattern, and justifying for themselves. In this case you could provide things like pattern blocks, cubes, etc, and give them lots of choice!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks Matthew, I couldn't agree with you more. In fact we are right now working on the justification. Students are trying to figure out from their yes piles what a pattern is. It is pretty challenging as they may need more work with patterns. They seem to identify what a pattern is but need more work exploring properties of patterns. We are also going to go outside and find patterns in the world, then they are going to create their own, like you suggested. Thanks again for your comments.

  3. This activity is one that I'm bookmarking for my first and second grade teachers. I appreciate how you gave multiple opportunities for students to explore a variety of patterns/non-patterns. I believe Matthew's idea of using different types of manipulatives to create patterns has value. Identifying and constructing their own patterns will help solidify a foundational understanding of number patterns in the future.

  4. Thanks Matt for the comment. Feel free to share anything and I would love to hear how it goes with other grade twos. We are just at the beginning stages of patterning and the twos are starting to see that patterns go beyond repeating. After our break (in a balanced calendar) we will be creating patterns with things in the classroom, looking for patterns in the community and then writing our own pattern books, like the one we read at the beginning if the lesson. Thanks again for the insightful comments.