Patterns Are Everywhere
May 14, 2021
“A child, more than anyone else, is a spontaneous observer of nature.” – Maria Montessori
This term, Prep’s Transdisciplinary Theme is ‘How the World Works’ with the Central Idea, ‘”Living things can be affected by the earth’s natural patterns”. To begin their journey the children were introduced to the mathematical concept of patterns and applied their knowledge as they engaged in the experiences set up by the educators in the classroom to support and develop their learning. Creating and recognising patterns encourages children to look for regularity and rules, which is a critical component of mathematical reasoning.
Children naturally explore patterns through their play. They have recognised patterns in our environment and pointed them out, in nature, on the pathways, and everywhere patterns are to be found. The classes have discovered that patterns are all around us, from identifying the patterns in clothing that we wear: stripes, prints, and plaids often repeat themselves, patterns in art, rhythmic and movement patterns in music, sound patterns with musical instruments to the repeating patterns found in nature, the solar system and everyday routines.
In the early years, identifying and creating patterns is just the beginning of the mastery of life-long mathematical skills upon which many mathematical concepts are based. To make patterns, children first need to be able to recognise that objects have different attributes (e.g, size, shape, colour, texture) and then be able to sort objects according to these attributes. Once children have developed these skills, they are able to move on to predicting what comes next, generating and describing their own patterns including, how and why patterns may occur. The children have been introduced to AB patterns and as they mastered this concept, they completed more complex pattern sequences of ABC and AAB patterns.
During STEM, the children engage with the Patterns and Relationships app, where children discover new ways to represent patterning using language, pictures and symbolic thinking.
During their pattern discoveries, the Marana class evolved their interest of patterns including the changes of the seasons and the way it impacts nature. They also noticed the leaves were falling off trees onto the ground. This began a discussion of the changing seasons and how it impacts nature. The children began collecting the beautiful leaves from the ground and brought them to the classroom. The children also discovered that the sun and moon were in the sky at the same time during the day, which began a provocation about ‘day’ and ‘night’.
From this provocation, an investigation about the sun began which sparked their curiosity about the phases of the moon. The children researched the different names associated with the phases and shared this fact-finding information with their peers.
In Elanora, the children listened to the story “Pattern Sniffers” they were inspired to be Pattern Sniffers and went for a walk around the School. They found so many and thought it would be a good idea to create their own book of patterns. To extend on this experience the children shared the Pattern Sniffers book and went on a pattern hunt with their family. They took photos to send in to show their peers their discoveries from within the home environment. The children love patterning and this experience has challenged their mathematical thinking.
When responding to children’s interests, ideas and questions, from an initial idea, learning can travel in so many directions, gathering its own momentum as it goes. For children, such open-ended learning is important because of the way it affirms and values their ideas and choices. It is an exciting way to enrich and inspire children’s learning and involvement. Open-ended inquiry-based approaches to learning provide opportunities for rich, unexpected and valuable learning outcomes that might not otherwise occur.