Monday, March 29, 2010

Three Part Lesson: Caterpillar Patterns for the Surprise Garden

Moses had been teaching patterning to his students prior to our visit.  Students were familiar with repeating patterns, the pattern core, and how to create patterns.  Here are the pictures from each part of the lesson.

Part 1: Get students ready for the problem by activating prior knowledge.

This is a poster from the Nelson Kindergarten program.  Moses asked students to find a pattern in the poster and identify the pattern core.  He recorded the core on the sticky note.

Part 2: Introduce the problem and get students to solve it.

Moses reminded them of the different animals they read about in the book.  He told them they were going to make caterpillars to go on their bulletin board.  After modelling how to colour the caterpillar with the two colours, students created their own caterpillar pattern independently.  Students used several different cores in their pattern.  We (visitors) were concerned that students would just do what Moses modelled but that was not the case!
Part 3: Share different thinking and look for big ideas (what did we learn from doing this?)

First, Moses placed all the caterpillars on the bulletin board.  Then he asked students to find ones that were the same.  This child is explaining why these two samples belong together (they have the same green-purple core).

As students continue to find pairs of caterpillars that were similar, Moses noticed that some pairs were the same.  This student is explaining how the first pair (the one he's pointing to) is similar to the pair closest to Moses (they have the same green-purple-green-purple core).

Once Moses got enough samples for each type of core, he began his explicit teaching about pattern cores.

Next Steps
There were several samples that were incomplete.  Moses plans on asking students to predict which colour is next based on the core.

This lesson is based on ' Colourful Caterpillars' in the Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics: Patterning and Algebra.  You can find electronic copies of all the guides at  There are online videos of lessons too!

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