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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

Lane & Kingsbury 2

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

Lane & Kingsbury 3

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

Lane & Kingsbury 4

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

2’s.

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

Lane & Kingsbury 5

“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.

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