Sunday, March 14, 2010

Explore a Growing Pattern with Color Tiles

Creating, describing, identifying, and extending patterns are important early algebra skills! Manipulatives enable students to build and extend patterns with their own hands. Even better--color-coded manipulatives help students actually SEE the patterns!

A numerical sequence is a common type of pattern. When a constant is added within a pattern (such as adding a quantity of 2 in the sequence 1, 3, 5, 7), the numerical sequence is more specifically referred to as an arithmetic sequence. And, the resulting pattern is known as a growing pattern.

Try this hands-on patterning activity, using color tiles, with your grades 3-5 students:

1. Have students begin with 1 center tile. Next, have them add 3 tiles of another color, 5 tiles of another color, and 7 tiles of yet another color--each time making a new square.

2. Ask students to write out the equations for each color-tile square they built, compare the equations, look for patterns, and discuss what they find.

3. Finally, have students predict the next equation, and use the color tiles to see if their prediction was correct.

Powerful stuff!

This blog is sponsored by Learning Resources. I am currently an employee of Learning Resources, Inc. I am also a former teacher and parent who uses their products on a regular basis. I often purchase Learning Resources products for my family's use, but sometimes I do receive free product samples to try out. My blog honestly reflects my personal and professional opinions and experiences.


  1. Great article, this is really what all teachers need to know, i am also going to appear in teaching test and was looking for some unique ideas, i am sure this way will give us more chances to explore our ideas, thanks for sharing.