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The photos on the pages listed below offer some math instructional ideas.




Dye seasonal macaroni, paint lima beans or use math manipulatives for patterning, counting sets, graphing or acting out story problems. I store individual sets of manipulatives in film containers. Then I place the thematic sets (story boards and manipulatives) in plastic shoe boxes so they are always ready to use. The math mats are Box It or Bag It's Storyboards.






This "Shape Race" game uses the pattern cards on the right for the players to move toward the finish box. This is an old game by Box It or Bag It Math.


These pattern cards are placed face down. Players take turns drawing a card and telling what comes next in the pattern. Then they move their marker on the Shape Race game to the next place that shape appears on the gameboard.


Wear costume cards to form patterns or to act out story problems. These are from Box It or Bag It.


The best way to teach patterns-is to look at the frequency that patterns occur in everyday life: day/night/day/night/ would translate into abababab or the two color tile on the floor/wall. Fall/winter/spring/summer would be an abcd pattern. Also, look at number sequences. Patterns form the basis of all mathematics, simple and complex. But  every complex thing can be broken down into the simple components; in other
words, know why you are teaching a certain pattern and inform the

Try clapping/tapping patterns for a transition activity and have the children join in. Try clapping once, then patting your head once and label it ABAB as you do it. This makes a great transition activity. Then invite children to show you a pattern and have everyone try to copy it. 


Have your students use sticky colored dots to make patterns on a paper strip (and label them with pencil right on the dot--ABABAB). Start with simple patterns like AB. When they've mastered that, try more complicated ones.

Marilyn Burns uses an introduction to patterns where the teacher builds several different patterns with unifix cubes, but hides them inside a tube of construction paper (roll up a sheet of construction paper, long or short), but a paper towel roll or toilet paper roll could also be used. Make the pattern towers of unifix cubes just long enough to fit inside the tube and pull them out, one cube at a time, having the  children predict what will come next. For instance, if you have an orange/black AB pattern in one of the tubes, show the children the first unifix cube that is black. Then ask if anyone has a prediction about what will come next. Ask them why they think so. Then show them the next cube that is orange and ask again for a prediction of what will come next. Continue asking and showing the pattern. They will begin to see the predictability of the pattern. Talk about how a good pattern is very predictable with a good beginning and a good ending---an AB pattern will always begin with an A and end with a B. Try an AABB pattern in the tube and an ABC pattern. If they catch on, add more complicated ones.

Talk about patterns all around them---on clothing, in words, in books (rhyming patterns, repeated lines, black/white pages interspersed with color pages). Tell them that if they are skilled at recognizing patterns, they will be good at math.

Updated 2-21-04




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