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Pattern walk

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Observation

Duration/age

Duration: 
Suitable for children: 
Location: 
Skills this activity improves: 
Pattern walk display image

Stripes, spots, squares and checks - patterns are all around us.

Next time you are out walking with your child look for the patterns around you. A pattern is s ordered and predictable, but it might not be even. It could be bricks in a wall or crooked paving stones. Show your child how some things form patterns.

Look, the slats in the seat make a stripy pattern. A stripe of wood, then a space, a stripe of wood, then a space. That makes a pattern.

See if they can find their own patterns.

You noticed a pattern of squares on the footpath - how long is it? Where does the pattern finish?

Talk to your child about how we make patterns with numbers sometimes, like with odd or even house numbers.

Look together for patterns made by fences, houses, cars, posts or windows on a wall.

Materials you will need

  • Your eyes

Why does this matter?

Patterns happen all around us. Even the routines in a day are patterns. When children learn to recognise patterns they are learning to see order and predict what will happen next. Patterns help us to organise our world.

When children recognise patterns they are learning about how things work together.

What does this lead to?

Understanding the way things work together helps children to make predictions and develop skills in logical thinking. It helps them to solve problems by looking for the patterns in a situation.

Understanding patterns helps children later when they are learning mathematics, especially algebra.

Language to use

  • Pattern
  • Stripe, square, spots, swirls
  • This one, that one, this one, that one
  • First, next
  • Odd, even
  • Short, tall, big, small

Questions to use

  • Can you find a pattern made of squares? What about one with curves?
  • Can you find a pattern that goes for a long way?

Useful tips

  1. You might also like to take a look at the activities Number walk and Reading a map.
  2. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

Take photos of the patterns you find while you are out walking. You could make a book of patterns.

Variation by age

Three to five year olds

  • Look for patterns at home too. The kitchen and bathroom have patterns hidden everywhere.
  • Encourage your child to make their own patterns. You could use socks, cars, bowls, or whatever you have at home.

Questions to ask

  • How can you make a pattern? Could you use colours or shapes?

Language to use

  • Tile, towel, taps
  • Blue, white, blue, white