We recently had a parent bring in shredded snake skin and we tied this into our hard and soft exploration. The children described the snake skin as soft and bumpy as they took a closer look at the snake skin through a magnifying glass at the light table. This is where they discovered a pattern on the snake’s skin which they identified as line, oval, line oval, etc. This led us to introducing patterns to the children from the snake skin observation.A pattern, also known as sequence constitutes a set of numbers or objects in which all the members are related with each other by a specific rule. The children were asked “Do you know what a pattern is?” They described a pattern to be:
- They go like this pink, blue, pink, blue
- Also pink, orange, pink, orange
- Long, short, long, short
- They can be anything
- They can be a number pattern
- The teacher and a student have a pattern on their shirt
- The paper has a pattern
- Patterns are not the same
- There can be more than 2 things on the pattern
Through the children’s descriptions of the term pattern, we were able to set up the light table with different materials to help them create the type of patter they spoke of. The materials provided were colored sticks, colored tiles, and colored shapes. As the children began creating the type of pattern they wanted to, the teacher observed that some patterns were more complex then others. The teachers were able to identify who understood patterns more than others and this helped them guide the project more successfully.
The next day we paired the children from the previous day with others who are beginning to learn about patterns. We allowed them to work together in teams and teach one another all they can about patterns. The teacher observed many different things:
- Some children didn’t speak much to each other, instead the child watched his partner and attempted to remake the same pattern. (Later the two children discussed their patterns and compared to see if they were identical.)
- Another set of children tried another approach. First one child began the pattern and then stopped to allow their partner to take over while he repeated the pattern out loud to him.
- Another pair of students had a conversation with one another first about how many colors and tiles they were going to use and then began creating the pattern together.
This provocation provided a great opportunity for the teachers to see each child’s learning style. In our philosophy, even though the children may be working on the same project, they are free to explore and understand concepts as his/her own level.Between these various groups, every group approached the patterns in a unique way. Understanding patterns broadens social development and ability to predict what comes next. Patterns aren’t just numbers and colors; there are patterns in behavior, dance, nature, games, sports, music and so much more. This experience encouraged the children to learn through one another. We will continue to explore patterns and the many different ways and types we can study them!