Patterning for Algebra

Algebra used to be viewed as a class for high school students. We know realize the importance of introducing algebraic thinking early in education. Identifying and studying patterns is a significant concept to help the youngest learners develop and enhance algebraic thinking. Creating, completing, identifying and describing patterns help students expand their mathematical mind. Here are some fun patterning activities for your students.

1)    Allow students to create patterns in a variety of ways – Have students create patterns for one another. One student acts out the pattern and chooses a classmate to complete it. If the classmate can correctly continue the pattern, she makes a new one for someone else to continue. Encourage students to be creative using different instruments, movements, etc.

2)    Manipulatives – Pattern Blocks, Attribute Blocks and Color Cubes are all wonderful math manipulatives to use to practice patterning. But don’t limit yourself to these products. Use everyday items such as buttons, crayons, pencils, erasers, stickers and anything else you can imagine.

3)    Problem Solving Activities – One problem solving strategy young students often use involves determining patterns. Here are some examples that can be solved by using patterns.

A)   In a video game, the first score was worth 10 points. The second score was worth 20 points. The third score was worth 30 points. How much was the sixth score worth? Show and describe the pattern that helped you solve this problem.

B)   At the carnival, there was a prize wheel. Each student got to spin one time to see if he or she won a prize. Spinning a “1” won a prize. Spinning a “2” or a “3” did not win a prize. Spinning a “4” won a prize. Spinning a “5” or a “6” did not win a prize. Rita spun a “12.” Did she win a prize? Show and describe the pattern that helped you solve this problem.

C)   Katie’s gym teacher was trying to get them in shape. On the first day, the kids ran 1 lap. On the second day, they ran 3 laps. On the third day, they ran 5 laps. On the fourth day, they ran 7 laps. How many laps did they run on the tenth day? Show and describe the pattern.

D)   The students in the class were lining up for the music concert. The teacher lined them up 1girl, 2 boys, 1 girl, 2 boys. If the teacher continued with this pattern, would the 10th child in line be a boy or a girl? Show and describe the pattern that helped you figure out the problem.

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