Connecting parents to a learning classroom

Unit: Patterns & Functions March 2013

We are having a great time with our unit, pattern and function this term. I had the privilege to view nature and its patterns through the eyes of the children while marvel at how much our environment can richly offer us in our learning experiences.

I am grateful to have parent’s ongoing involvement and active participation as this is fundamental to supporting your child develop early mathematical thinking and concepts.

Here is a brief report on what we have been learning in the classroom and beyond as well as ideas to support your child at home…

What we want to focus on...

The activities contained in this newsletter is suitable for Stage 1, children ages 5-6, within the Board of Studies NSW, K6 Mathematics Syllabus found in

Lesson Objectives:

• Characteristics of a pattern

• Different ways to make, describe and record patterns.

• How patterns help us to predict.

An inquiry into:

• What makes a pattern?

• How we can describe and record a pattern?

• How we can use patterns to make sense of our world?

• How we can use patterns to predict future term?

What we want to learn...

Understanding patterns are at the very heart of math. It is the beginning step to acquiring skills needed to develop algebraic thinking. We are investigating characteristics of a pattern and learning how to describe them using mathematical terms.

This week, we took a little excursion around the school all the way to the park to explore patterns around us. The children enjoyed identifying and describing the patterns found in leaves, pebbles, snails, climbing frames, buildings etc. and whatever we could collect, we brought it into the classroom for further investigation.

The children were grouped in twos or threes, they are instructed to pick an item that they want to learn more about. This will lead to our next focus, describing the patterns. Description words like spiral, growing and repetitive are taught and identified. You could help your child revisit these vocabularies at home.

What we want to create...

Using the shape tool found in

students had the opportunity to make their own linear patterns using shapes and colours.

Students worked in pairs, making patterns using a variety of math resources. They described their pattern orally or written, asking the partner to predict what comes next.

Whole class project...

It will be marvelous to see every child in the class contribute to this activity. As a whole classroom effort, we are going to design a new border for the classroom display.

Students will create a prototype, describe the pattern, and find out how many terms are required for a given number of elements.

Meanwhile you could discuss this activity with your child and help them visualize their ideas. They’ll come back to school ready to brainstorm with their friends to complete this project.

We had lots of fun creating music rhythm patterns with our body parts this week. It was a lot of excitement having Mr Burrows, our music teacher displaying many rhythm patterns and doing body percussions to the rhythm. The children composed their own patterns and shared their creation. Repetitive patterns, growing patterns were all evident in their masterpieces.

matt's pattern vid
ethans pattern vid

After learning to understand, recognize and describe patterns, we extended our lessons by relating our patterns to numbers patterns.

What we want to inquire...

  • We find patterns in nature, art, music and literature. We also find them in numbers.
  • How we use patterns in real life
  • How patterns make sense of our world

what we want to practise...


Colour coded squares activity. Colour “red” for skip numbers. Colour “blue” counting on 5. Colour “green” counting on 10s

Matchstick activity:

This is an activity children love doing, as it is interactive and satisfying once they discover the rule. An activity we are currently learning at school and one that you can easily practice with your child at home.

Make a square using matchsticks or toothpicks, count how many matchsticks needed to make that square. Then continue attaching another square, record how many matchsticks needed to make two squares. Continue making 3rd, 4th, 5th… squares and record how many matchsticks used. Draw a table to organize your findings.

Extend to other shapes like triangles, rectangles etc.

Assist your child in finding out the rule. Ask “How many more matchsticks are used in every pattern?” “How many more than the previous shape?”

What we can do at home...

Here are a few more ideas and strategies you can use at home with your child in conjunction with what is discussed at the classroom. Keep it positive and keep inquiring!

  • Discuss ways we use patterns in real life and list ideas.

  • Look at patterns everywhere, floor, curtains, pyjamas, dresses, plates, perhaps take pictures of it, explain and discuss.

  • Take every opportunity to talk about how patterns make sense of our world, like how the calendar is organized, how does the traffic light work and in which sequence? What pattern does the analog clock make? diary etc..

  • Play pattern games. One person starts with a pattern and the other person has to guess how the pattern continues. Make all kinds of patterns with shells, button, bottle tops, legos, blocks etc. Make patterns that go round in circles, up, down, linear..

  • Use the calculator, press 1 then the + sign, then keep pressing the = Help your child see that the pattern is added by 1 everytime. You can explore other numbers like 1+ 2, then press = sign, then help your child identify the rule in the pattern.


According to studies shown in National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools (2002, para. 2), it is evident that parent involvement is essential to promoting student achievement. To effectively build this partnership, communicating through what we have been learning formally in the classroom, would help support you motivate your child in an informal learning environment, both elements needed to ensure children learn to their best ability, as suggested by Adams & Christenson (2000) in their journal on research into Trust and the Family-Relationship.

To foster a positive mathematical atmosphere, manipulative and various math resources for pattern building are visible and accessible in the classroom and shared area. Displaying their work around the classroom at eye-level for students to view each other’s work promotes pride and self-confidence. Students in my classroom are constantly reminded that it is an advantage that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, because they can help each other in different dynamics. They are encouraged to take risks and have a go in every task. I believe advocating such learning behaviour provides an empowering platform for students to reach its fullest potential. (Reys et al, 2012, pp14)

The lesson plans are largely focused on the Constructivism Approach, whereby, learning is build upon previous knowledge and centred on real life activities. Instead of front- loading new information, students are guided to explore and discover through meaningful activities that may provoke new inquiry, leading to effective learning and retention of knowledge and skills. This approach in teaching and learning stirs their interest and keeps them naturally engaged in their journey of life-long learning. I thoroughly believe that acquiring both procedural and conceptual knowledge will help students’ gain higher order thinking that is paramount to achieving mathematical skills and concepts (Reys et al, 2012, pp 18). Making connections between patterns, numbers and the rules between their relationships is an example of intertwining both of this knowledge.

The format used when planning for the lessons intertwines between investigative, instruction and exploration, as oppose to the more traditional review-teach-practice method, as advised by Reys et al (2012, pp 46). Firstly, unlocking student’s prior knowledge through visiting and exploring the natural surrounding helps form further instruction. Students are encouraged to investigate, discover and identify patterns through purposefully asking questions that provoke critical thinking. Opportunities for group work and peer discussion engages students to approach problem solving independently under supervision from the teacher as mentioned in Reys et al (2012, pp 48).

Understanding pattern is a basic math skill that provides a foundation for many mathematical concepts. A proficiency in identifying, creating and extending patterns at this stage is required for multiplication, skip counting etc in later years. Reys et al (2012, pp 303) insists that verbalizing and sharing their learning help students solidify their thinking. It adds on by saying that to aid them, educators and parents need to ask them the right questions, prompting them to think algebraically. The strategy adopted in my classroom is very much in line with this, evident in the lesson plan activities.

Technology is a vital tool for teaching and learning because it is increasingly relevant to students these days. It is an interactive learning instrument that attracts and captures children of all ages in a fun manner. It enhances visual thinking, hence, motivating students to search further (Reys et al, 2012, pp 42-43)

Reference for justification

National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools (2002). A New Wave of Evidence. Retrieved from

Adams, K. & Christenson, S. 2000, Trust and the Family-School Relationship Examination of Parent-Teacher Differences in Elementary and Secondary Grades, Journal of School Psychology, Volume 38, Issue 5, September – October 2000, Pages 477-478.

Reys R., Lindquist M., Lambdin D. & Smith N, 2012, Helping Children Learn Mathematics, 10th edition. John Wiley & Sons Inc, USA.

Reference for newsletter

Board of Studies NSW, K-6 Mathematics Syllabus, 2006. Retrieved from

Dreamstime (2000). Snail shell spiral detail [photo]. Retrieved from

Marianne’s Creation (2009). CU Real Leaves [collage]. Retrieved from

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000). Illuminations, Resources for Teaching Math. Shape Tool retrieved from

Video is home recorded. Parental consent is sought.

PBS Parents (2003). Pattern Matcher [image]. Retrieved from

Prufrock Press Inc (2008). Math is Fun [image]. Retrieved from

Hygloss (1950). Classroom border-Blue Wave [image]. Retrieved from

Photobug Photo Booth n.d. Lego Background [photo]. Retrieved from

Video is home recorded. Parental consent is sought