Introduction to Patterning

Early Years
Age 3-6


Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematics Behaviour

  • Recognize, explore, describe, and compare patterns, and extend, translate, and create them, using the core of a pattern and predicting what comes next (#18).


  • Students and teacher will gather at the carpet and sit in a circle.
Simple patterns made with icons


  • Whiteboard or chalkboard  ​
  • Dry-erase markers or chalk


  • Display a simple pattern on the whiteboard (e.g AB pattern).​
  • Ask students if they can identify or extend the pattern.​
  • After each extension or suggestion of the pattern, ask students to justify their thinking.​
  • Ask, How do you know that the pattern is correct?
  • Proceed by writing a different or more complicated pattern (e.g. ABC pattern) on the board and repeat the steps above.​
  • Once students comprehend how to build onto existing patterns, challenge them by displaying a pattern with missing pieces. ​
  • Pose the question, What piece or parts of the pattern belong in the blank section(s)?  
  • Encourage students to justify their responses and to explain their reasoning. ​
  • Wrap up the activity by defining the components and rules of a pattern (e.g. the pattern core, a pattern consists of at least three repetitions or cycles).

Look Fors

  • How easily can children identify, expand and justify patterns accurately?​
  • What skills do students use when extending patterns or filling in missing pieces to the pattern?


  • This activity can be done using more complex patterns with different objects, materials or symbols.

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