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Inservice: Getting Started with Patterns

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The initial 2-hour session focuses on supporting participants to notice patterns in their environment and consider what young children may notice. The second 2-hour session focuses on deepening understanding of what a pattern is, and what we want preschool children to understand about pattern.

Professional Development: Two 2-hour Sessions

Often preschool teachers find it challenging to “fit” mathematics into their ongoing interactions with children in a purposeful way. Patterning is a productive domain for working on this because it can be integrated into everyday activities and routines. This use case is intended to get participants started with patterning in ways that make use of children’s intuitive ideas and regular activity. The focus is on noticing and understanding what constitutes a pattern.


Session 1

Noticing patterns in the environment and considering what young children notice

Begin with the What Do You Notice? activity.

  • Engage participants in the What Do You Notice? activity. When showing the image that you have chosen, make sure you leave it open for participants to share a range of what they notice without feedback, judgment, or repeating what they stated. The goal is to get all ideas out and everyone offering something to the noticing activity.
  • Do not show the video at the end. We will come back to that in the second session. The focus of this first session is on the informal ideas that are noticed.

Following the What Do You Notice? activity.

  • Ask participants to read the handout Pattern, Pattern Everywhere. Discuss all of the places at school where students would notice patterns. Note that you have not yet had a conversation about what constitutes a pattern. This is purposeful. You want to get their ideas out and only after that, give them mathematical precision and language. 

Further explore everyday patterns.

  • Explore the resource Patterns in Everyday ActivitiesYou could do this as a group, showing the website and the associated video in the handout. Or you could have folks read and watch, then discuss in pairs.



Session 2

Deepening understanding of pattern and what we want children to understand

Begin with classroom video found at the end of the What Do You Notice? activity.

  • Watch this Teaching Channel video of the activity Same or Different?, found at the end of the What Do You Notice? activity. Have participants talk about what the students in the video noticed. What was surprising to participants? Why? What else do they expect students may say?

Engage in reading and discussion together.

Use video to support the participants to know what to look for in seeing what children understand about patterns.

  • Use examples and the ideas in Assessing Children's Knowledge of Pattern to ask the participants to determine if in the examples you share involve children noticing regularity, recognizing patterns, identifying patterns, copying patterns, extending patterns, or generalizing patterns. Discuss what questions you would ask to find out.
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