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Meredith Lane & Anna Kingsbury
MTH 221
Family Math Night Activity
17 October 2014
Halloween Patterns
In this activity, students will create, repeat, and describe patterns using fall shapes and
colors. To begin, we will start by creating a pattern to model what a repeating pattern looks like.
As the pattern forms, we will ask the students what would come next in the pattern and how they
know that. We would start with simple patterns with simple pattern cores (AB) and progress with
more complex patterns (AAB, AABBCC, ABBC), as well as different colors (red, orange,
yellow, black, and white). To see if students understand, they should try to identify these pattern
cores, such as how ABC is the core of the pattern ABC, ABC, ABC. Once students understand
these pattern cores, we will discuss why it is important to identify the core. Students will then
create their own patterns using the fall shapes, then answer questions such as, “what would be
the 7th shape?” and so on. The elementary students will be interested in this activity because it is
hands-on and interactive; it involves fun shapes and colors, but also because they can create their
own patterns and explain how they did it. To do this activity, we need fall-type shapes (witches,
pumpkins, ghosts, apples, etc.) cut out on red, yellow, and orange construction paper and
worksheets to mark down their patterns, the pattern form, and the core as well as markers or
crayons for the children to record this information. This is quite a simple activity, but students
should at least be able to know differences in colors and shapes, how to count, and and be able to
formulate patterns based on how these shapes and colors are arranged. While this specific

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activity is aimed for kindergarteners through second graders, it could be modified to be more
complex for older students, such as having more colors or more difficult pattern cores.
The way that this activity is set up gives it a lot of potential for being adapted to either the
K-2 or 3-5 grade levels. Because the activity simply involves the children learning about,
describing, and creating different patterns, it can easily be set up to be simpler or more complex
based on each student. For example, children in grades K-2 can use the simple fall themed
shapes with only one or two pattern cores. To start, the children could be shown just one shape in
varying colors or two shapes of the same color in a pattern such as ABABAB and to identify the
one core that makes the sequence a pattern. Next, the children would be asked to complete a few
more sequences of this simple pattern in order to reinforce the idea of what makes a pattern and
to identify pattern cores. They then could be asked to make their own pattern using only a few
pattern cores - such as two different colors or two different shapes. To make this exercise a little
more difficult, but still within this age range, we could have the students use the same pattern
cores in a more complex manner such as making the repetition of cores be more of an
ABBABBA sequence. To adapt this activity to be more suitable for students in grades 3-5, we
could begin by showing students patterns that have more complex pattern cores (such as using
two colors and two shapes in order to create a sequence such as ABCDABCD) and then asking
the students to define the cores and what makes it a pattern. These students could then go on to
complete a started pattern that is also more complex with multiple core elements in them. These
older students could also be asked to build on their knowledge of the current pattern to estimate
what the shape and color would be in, for example, the 10th sequence - or even further out. This
activity has very much potential in adapting to fit the grade levels by changing minor things
about the patterns - such as adding more complex pattern cores and asking the students to take

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their interactions with the patterns to a new level by asking them to complete the sequences or
estimate sequence numbers farther out.
While putting together this activity for Family Math Night, it was important to take into
account the mathematical standards and making sure they are being met. First of all, the
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) counting and cardinality standard for
kindergarten is met because students will be counting through the shapes in the patterns. They
will also have to know the progression of numbers, to know which shape comes with which
sequence number. In this standard, students should be able to “count to 100 by ones and by tens,”
“connect counting to cardinality” and “write numbers 0-20.” The numbers and operations
standards for first grade is met because students should know how to find which shape should
come next in a sequence, based on the number of a shape. For example, in a AB pattern, the
student should be able to find out what would be the 10th shape, just based off of the number.
Since there are two shapes in the sequence, the student should be able to figure out that the 10th
shape will be B. In the activity, students will create their own patterns in groups, which correlates
with the second grade standard for operations and algebraic thinking, in which students should
be able to pair numbers in groups. They will also use their knowledge of addition and subtraction
“using mental strategies” to “fluently” count the total number of shapes in each pattern.
In order to modify this activity to meet the standards better, we could hand out a
worksheet with sample patterns, where students would need to come up with which shape would
be the “n”th shape. This would help to better cover the operations and algebraic thinking
standard for first grade because students would be able to use their knowledge of numbers and
their intervals to find numerical patterns. For example, if one of the patterns had ten shapes and
the students were asked to find the 20th or 30th shape, they could, “mentally find 10 more or 10

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less than the number” in a different way than just counting, which would help them visually
understand and conceptualize counting by 10’s. Another way that the activity could be modified
to meet the standards better would be to use more complex patterns so that students could use
their knowledge of addition/subtraction, multiplication/division, or algebra to find shapes in a
certain sequence number. For example, if the pattern was ABACDC and the student was told to
find the 32nd shape in the sequence, they could use their knowledge of counting by 2’s to find
that the shape would be B. This would be more deeply delving into the operations and algebraic
thinking pattern for second grade, which aims for students to be able to pair and count objects by
Not only is it important to look at the CCSSM content standards, but to make sure that
process standards are being met as well. The NCTM Process Standards are exemplified in our
activity in the Communication standard as well as in the Problem Solving standard. First off, the
Communication standard will very obviously be used by the students as they discuss with us
what makes a pattern and determine what core elements go into making that pattern work. As we
begin by showing each student a sample pattern and explain to them what core elements make it
a pattern, the students will be using their ability to evaluate our mathematical thinking and
reasoning in order to understand how it works. Also, in order for the students to, in turn, let us
know that they understand what makes a pattern they would need to use their ability to
communicate their own mathematical ideas clearly and in a way that lets us know that they
understand how pattern cores work. The students would also be using this standard after they
create their own pattern or finish a started one to communicate with us their ideas on what the
pattern cores are and why those ideas may work to create a pattern. All of these tie in the fact that
students will be using language of mathematics such as the words “pattern”, “core”, and

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“repeating” to let us know exactly what they are talking about as they explain. Students would
also be using the NCTM standard of Problem Solving during multiple points during this activity.
As students are asked to create their own pattern they would be working to build on their new
mathematical knowledge of pattern cores in order to create a successful pattern. They would
have to decide what pattern cores to use while creating their own pattern and determine why that
works to create one. Students would also be using this standard as they are trying to figure out
some sequence number and may apply a variety of strategies to find the solution - such as
physically making the entire pattern or counting it out. We would also ask the students to look
back on their own pattern and explain the pattern cores, or to describe how they reached their
answers to the sequence number problem. In order to do these things, students would have to
reflect back on their own process in order to explain how they reached their pattern or answer.
This activity is engaging for students of all ages and also reaches many standards for
mathematics, which is why we chose it for our Family Math Night Activity. For additional
practice beyond this activity, we will encourage parents to have their children fill out the handout
with three more pattern problems with Halloween or general fall themes. This will keep the
students interested in the topic and more involved with math outside of school.