Thursday, June 6, 2013

Math With Mosaics: Pattern Tiles

I don't know about you guys, but I simply hated math growing up.  I even wrote a poem about it in college, called "I Hate Statistics."  I wrote that while I was in the library "studying" for my final exam.  Someday I'll have to share that beautiful piece of literature.

But I simply love art.  And writing.  And pretty much anything where creativity is encouraged.  My beef with math is that there is only one answer.  One.  No room for mistakes.  No room for creativity.

At least, that's what I thought.  When I was growing up, we learned one way to get the answer.  You figure out the formula, and you're golden.  But during college and after I became a teacher, I discovered that there can be many ways, dozens even, to arrive at the correct answer.  And everybody might think about math a little differently.  The goal isn't to teach every student how to carry the tens.  The goal is to teach every student how to think about math.  Once a student understands the concept, then you can work on the formula.

The other thing I began to see as a teacher is that math is everywhere.  And there are so many delicious ways to incorporate math concepts into things that I personally enjoy very much, like art.

Today we did just that, and our activity was really pretty simple.  I'm calling it "Math with Mosaics."



1. A whole lot of construction paper squares.  It took me about 20 minutes to cut what you see here, but if you have a paper cutter (I would really love to get one of these), you could cut your squares in far less time.
2. glue
3. Pattern Tile grid sheets (free download)
4. Card stock (any color, ours is white)


The first step is to model making a pattern for your kids, especially if patterning is a new concept.  Start fairly simple, with two colors.  This is called an AB pattern, and this was where both of my kiddos started.

(There's the fairy dress again.  She does have other clothes. I promise.)

(Sorry about that runny nose.  He's been a little bit of a sickie this week.)

After we made the first tile, I decided to put glue dots on the paper ahead of time.

After she worked with an AB pattern, Natalie went on to try an ABC pattern.  Both of those ended up being pretty easy for her.

Her fourth tile was made using an AABBCC pattern, and that's where things got tricky.  She understood the concept, but had trouble keeping it all straight while putting it together.  This is where real teaching happens.  Start with something your child can do on their own fairly easily.  Then move into something they can do with guidance, but don't jump ahead to a more advanced skill too quickly.  You want to gradually get there so that your child doesn't get frustrated and want to quit.

We had a few mistakes with this one.  When she made a mistake, I stopped her, we reviewed her pattern, and then I would point to the last color and ask what should come next.  She almost always gave the right answer at that point.

After the kids finished there tiles, I cut them out and we glued them on the card stock to make a pattern quilt!  I personally think these would be really cool with lots and lots of tiles, but the attention span of a 3 and 4 year old is only so long ;)  

In fact, Daniel's attention span usually lasts as long as one completed picture or project.

But Natalie's turned out more how I envisioned, with the pattern tiles coming together to make a larger picture:

Yay for combining math and art!  So much fun :)  Stay tuned.  I cut up so many little squares and I intend for us to use them.  I've got a few other projects that we'll be doing with these.

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  1. Great idea for fine motor and pattern skills! :)

    1. Glad you liked it and thanks for reading!


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