May 7, 2013

WonderWorks: Patterns

Patterns are early algebra, plus they give us the power to predict what's going to happen next--strong stuff for preschoolers!

Today's Topic: Patterns
small sticky notes in a variety of colors
buttons, beads, lids from drink bottles, colored pasta or anything else that could be made into a pattern
rubber stamps and stamp pads
egg cartons
chenille stems

  cover art Pattern fish / Harris, Trudy
(This book was perfect for today's topic!  It had rhythmic patterns, color and shape visual patterns, built in the "what comes next" concept seamlessly and even had a bit of a plotline!)

 What Kids Do: 
Although I have no photos of it, we started our pattern practice off with some interactive patterning.  I sang a tonal pattern and they repeated it back to me, we also repeated a clap/tap pattern and a shake/jingle pattern (with bells and shaker eggs).  We also arranged the group into a tall/short pattern (i.e. grown-up/child) and did some full-body patterning with jumping and stomping.

 During the first class this morning, one mom discovered that her son understood the patterning concept more easily (when using the rubber stamps) when she drew a grid (similar to the one I sketched above).  For the second class, I used this grid as an explanation at the beginning of class (asking the kids which of the shapes in the bottom slot they thought should go next and being open to discussing any of them as possibilities) and the rubber stamp patterning project seemed to be much more successful in the second class, even if they didn't draw the grid on their own paper.

we also played with wooden shape magnets:

 and the egg cartons + drink bottle lids & buttons were hugely popular!  In the picture below, the dad had started the pattern for his son, saying, "orange, orange, pink, orange, orange... and what comes next?" and his son said, "a button!"
 This student made two different patterns (black, white, blue and blue, white, blue, white...) to fill his two rows.
 This student was making a new pattern for each row.
 And this student created the fantastic orange/blue border pattern shown in the top photo, all by herself!
 Check out these great blue/white rows!
 Another popular project was stringing colored pasta onto chenille stems in a pattern.  I'd actually purchased pony beads for this project, but forgot them at home this morning, so I was thrilled to discover this bag of dyed pasta in my stash.  It was perfect!

 Here's one example of the stamped patterns I saw:
 And here's a lovely sticky-note pattern:
 We also tried some simple paper weaving in a die-cut "woven heart."
Adult Challenge of the week:  Although I forgot to mention it in the first class, today's Adult Challenge was to ask your child "Why do you say that?"  For instance, if you create a pattern and ask them what comes next and they respond with an answer you weren't expecting, perhaps they're just thinking about the pattern differently than you!  If you simply "correct" them, you'll never know what line of thought brought them to their own answer.

 Variations to try: 
There are SO many fun ways to play with patterns!  Here are a few other ideas that we didn't get to try today:
--skewer red and green grapes on wooden skewer in a pattern
--string snacks-with-a-hole (pretzels, fruit loop cereal, etc.) on a length of yarn to make a snacklace!
--create simple garlands with office supply stickers and string (stick the same shapes back-to-back, sandwiching the string in between)
--go on a pattern hunt in the library (floor tiles, clothing people are wearing, wallpaper, etc.).  If you had the means, this would be a great opportunity to tie in a bit of traditional technology by giving children a digital camera to record the pattern they saw!

Edited 5/22 to add another great picture book about patterns:  Beep, Beep, Vroom, Vroom by Stuart J. Murphy

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