We live in a world surrounded by patterns and half of the time we don’t even realize it! Every day we drive through neighborhoods of neatly organized houses, we walk into stores filled with aisle upon aisle of merchandise that have been carefully categorized, and we stroll through parking lots of neatly spaced cars. Yet, do we ever stop to realize that these are ALL patterns and that they make our lives easier? Patterns are EVERYWHERE and most of the time we fail to take notice of them. Unfortunately, our students do the same thing… I don’t think we place enough emphasis on the Power of Patterns in our classroom. At least I know that I don’t… Just recently, I attended a 3 day workshop that opened my eyes to the importance of teaching our children to recognize patterns all around us. Not only are most patterns BEAUTIFUL to look at, but they also bring order to our world and make our lives much easier! Because math is a study of patterns, if we can encourage our students to be on a constant quest for them, math will become MUCH more exciting and engaging! Let’s not even get into the long term benefits (such as Algebra) that our kiddos will reap from learning such a simple concept at a very young age. Why else should children be pattern detectives? Why is it NOT enough to teach about patterns when we get to the chapter in our books on patterns? In an effort to introduce my students to patterns right from the very start of the school year, I have created the following BACK to SCHOOL Coded 100 Chart Activity that I can’t wait to share with my 3rd graders. (If you’d like a free copy of the activity simply click on any of the pictures below.) Since my students are still on summer break, I tried the activity out with my own son and he absolutely LOVED it! As a matter of fact he made a point to tell me that if I make another one, he wants to be the first to “test it out”. (That’s a winner in my book!) So what is this activity all about? Basically, students are given a mat that resembles a blank 100’s chart grid. They are then given 15 puzzle pieces and their goal is to work with a partner to assemble the puzzle. The key to solving this task, however, is to figure out the patterns that are present. Now when you complete this activity with your own students, I want you to try REALLY hard NOT to offer them any clues. Instead guide them by asking questions such as… What do you notice about the different puzzle pieces? What do you know already about puzzles? What strategy you think you should try out first? Remember, the goal is to get your students to notice the patterns… When the puzzle has been completed join your students in doing the HAPPY DANCE!!!!!!! Then discuss ALL the patterns they were able to find and how it helped them solve the puzzle. I hope YOUR students will have as much fun as my son did completing this Back to School Pattern Puzzle! Stop… look around… do you notice any patterns?