Vehicle Patterning

In this lesson, children will use vehicle counters to recreate existing patterns and find the unknown within a pattern.

Math Lesson for:

Toddlers/Preschoolers
(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

Content Area:

Algebra

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers and number systems
  • Understand patterns, relations and functions

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Counting with understanding and recognizing “how many” in sets of objects
  • Sorting, classifying and ordering objects by size, number and other properties
  • Recognizing, describing and extending patterns such as sequences of sounds and shapes or simple numeric patterns and translating from one representation to another
  • Analyzing how both repeating and growing patterns are generated

Vehicle Patterning

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • A bucket of vehicle counters  (Learning Resources Mini Motors Counters are available at amazon.com or staples.com)
  • Pattern cards (Patterns on sentence strips that include the vehicle shapes. Create some complete patterns and some repeating patterns that are missing part of the pattern (green boat, orange car, yellow bus, green boat, orange car, yellow bus, ________, orange car, _____________.)

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. Explain to the children that today they are going to look at patterns. Ask: “What is a pattern? What can you use to make a pattern? Do you see any patterns around you? How can you tell if something is a pattern?”
  2. Show the children the vehicle counters. Hold up each of the six counters and describe it by color and vehicle. “This is an orange car. This is the blue train.”
  3. Place several of the vehicles into a pattern. Get the children to recognize the pattern. Give the children the definition of what a pattern is: something that repeats more than once. Ask: “Can you find the pattern? What is your pattern?”
  4. After you have established what a pattern is and the children recognize the pattern, take out one of the vehicles and ask: “What colored vehicle am I missing from my pattern?”
  5. Create another repeating pattern. Once the children have established the pattern, take two different vehicles out of the pattern. Ask: “What vehicles are missing from my pattern?”

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Hand out the completed pattern cards and the vehicle counters. Have the children recreate the patterns on the cards. Once they are done with one card, have them swap cards with a friend.
  2. Once they have gotten used to recreating the patterns on the pattern cards, give them the pattern cards that have some of the vehicles missing in the patterns. Have them recreate the patterns and add the missing vehicles into the pattern.

Additional Extensions

  • To reinforce the pattern, have the children draw the pattern on separate pieces of paper. They can draw the different-colored vehicles and label them or they can just adhere to the color patterns.
  • Have the children create their own pattern cards to be used by other children in the class. Allow a time where the children can come together and share their patterns. If the children are really pattern savvy, have them create pattern cards that are missing one or two vehicles within the repeating pattern.

Step 4: Teach math vocabulary.

  • Pattern: A repeated design or recurring sequence (e.g.,”The pattern on the card is one orange car, one blue train, etc.”)

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Have difficulty identifying the two aspects of the pattern (color and type of vehicle)
Home child care providers may:
  • Concentrate on just one aspect of the pattern (Have the children recognize and recreate the color pattern and then move on to recognizing and recreating the vehicle pattern.)
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Recognize the patterns easily
Home child care providers may:
  • Have the children draw the pattern on separate pieces of paper to reinforce the pattern (They can draw the different-colored vehicles and label them or they can just adhere to the color pattern.)
  • Have the children create their own pattern cards to be used by other children in the class. Allow a time where the children can come together and share their patterns. If they are really pattern savvy, have them create pattern cards that are missing one or two vehicles within the repeating pattern.

Suggested Books

  • Pattern Fish by Trudy Harris (Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Pub Group, 2007)
  • Pattern (Math Counts) by Henry Arthur Pluckrose (New York: Childrens Pr; Reissue edition, 1995)

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

  • Look for patterns on leaves or other items in nature, explore patterns in other objects or find patterns in the American flag. You can also have the children create their own patterns in bead or block construction; color every second or fifth day on a calendar at school; or create patterns using sponge printing, collage materials, gift wrap or wallpaper samples. So many possibilities!

Web Resources

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