If you observe closely, we are surrounded by patterns. Some are man-made, and there are patterns in nature too. These patterns can be found in animals, plants, and even outer space!
Encouraging your child to look for patterns can help develop their math skills and allows them to take notice of the world around them.1 This can also be a fun way to find order in the chaos around us and bond with your child. Here are some everyday examples of patterns.
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The melody of a song often contains a repeating pattern. The verses might have the same melody but with different words. The chorus of a song usually has a repeating pattern too. Here’s a look at a simple example that you can teach your child.
“Johnny Johnny, Yes Papa” is a popular nursery rhyme that contains a repeating pattern. The melody follows an AA BB pattern. The first two lines (AA) are the same, and the last two lines (BB) are the same.
Children often clap along to nursery rhymes and songs. This helps them develop an understanding of patterns. Many clapping games contain simple patterns that are easy for young children to follow. For example, the popular game “Hand Tick Tac Toe” follows a rhythmic pattern of claps. Similarly, the game “Miss Mary Mack” has a well-known clapping pattern that goes with it.
We see patterns everywhere in the world of shapes. A quilt is often made up of many shapes arranged in a pattern. Tiles on the floor or walls usually form a pattern too. Patterns that are made of geometric shapes and don’t overlap are called tessellations. You can point out the patterns to your child when you spot them.
If you observe carefully, the human body is full of patterns! The fingers on each hand are almost identical, with a thumb and four smaller fingers. Our arms and legs usually come in pairs. Even the clothes we wear often come in matching sets—a pair of socks, a pair of shoes, and so on.
The four seasons—winter, spring, summer, and fall—form a repeating pattern. Each season has its own weather conditions, activities, and holidays. After a season ends, another begins in its place. This cycle repeats over and over again, year after year.
Day and Night
There is a daily pattern of day and night. The sun rises in the morning, shining light onto the Earth. As the day goes on, it slowly gets darker and darker. Eventually, the sun sets, and it becomes nighttime. This cycle repeats itself every 24 hours.
The Fibonacci sequence is a pattern that appears in nature. It can be found in the arrangement of leaves on a stem, the pattern of a pinecone, and even the spiral of a seashell. The Fibonacci sequence is also found in the way some animals arrange themselves. For example, a honeybee builds its hive by arranging hexagonal cells in a spiral pattern. It is one of the most interesting and beautiful patterns you can observe.
Many animals have patterns on their fur or skin. For example, a zebra has black and white stripes, while a leopard has spots. Some animals use their patterns for camouflage, while others use them for communication. For example, a male peacock shows off its colorful tail feathers to attract a mate. Similarly, the stripes on a tiger’s fur help it blend in with the tall grasses of the jungle.
Symmetry is when one half of something is the same as the other half. We see symmetry all around us in both natural and man-made objects. For example, a snowflake is symmetrical, as is a butterfly. Many buildings are also symmetrical, with one half being a mirror image of the other. Encourage your child to look for symmetrical patterns in the world around them.
Many everyday objects contain patterns. For example, a checkered tablecloth contains a repeating black and white pattern. Other examples include stripes on a bee’s body, spots on a leopard, and scales on a fish.
Patterns can also be found in literature. Words, phrases, and even whole sentences can be repeated to create a pattern. For example, the nursery rhyme “The Wheels on the Bus” contains a repeating pattern of words, “Round and round, round and round.“
Patterns are everywhere; you just need to observe carefully to spot them! The next time you’re out and about with your child, see if you can spot some patterns together. Did you find this article helpful and interesting? To read more such articles, visit BYJU’S FutureSchool Blog.
Cuoco, Mark, & Goldenberg, E. (1996). Habits of Mind: An Organizing Principle for Mathematics Curricula. Retrieved from https://nrich.maths.org/content/id/9968/Cuoco_etal-1996.pdf