Math PK-2

Systems Change
Math PK-2 > Strategies > Direct Instruction: Patterning

Direct Instruction: Patterning


Thinking of and about patterns encourages learners to look for and understand the rules and relationships that are critical components of mathematical reasoning. Learners can start to develop the awareness of and ability to replicate pattern rules when adults label patterns with general terms, like letters ABAB, which also supports Language Skills. However, research shows that students develop deeper conceptual understanding and Mathematical Flexibility when they engage in exploration and productive failure before direct instruction.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this third grade teacher uses choral counting to look for patterns. Through skip counting as a whole class, students practice creating and identifying a pattern for a familiar rule.

  • When teachers devote special attention to patterning, students are better able to identify, replicate, and extend patterns, which are foundational for future math learning and reasoning. Teachers can instruct students to look for regularities and rules in patterns by having them practice creating the same kind of pattern with different objects and naming the part that repeats. Students' pattern understanding is important for more complex mathematical concepts, like Symbolic Number and Operations.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Learn how Brainquake's Wuzzit Trouble Math builds numerical patterning skills. As learners correctly identify number patterns, they are challenged with more complex problems and develop deeper number sense.

  • Products can support patterning by providing multiple means of displaying objects in a pattern sequence. When learners interact and explore patterns with a variety of shapes, colors, and numbers, they grow in their abilities to recognize, duplicate, and abstract patterns.
  • Resources

    Below are additional examples, research, and professional development. These resources are possible representations of this strategy, not endorsements.

    Factors Supported by this Strategy