An open-ended task

Mrs K had spent some time with her year 1 class making repeating pattern 'trains' as well as border patterns and even some two-dimensional repeating patterns.

She wanted to see not only how much the students had understood about repeating patterns, but also how they would apply their knowledge to a novel situation.

So she gave them this task.

Using your cubes, make a 'pattern house'. This house can be any shape you like, but it must show a pattern. When you have finished building your house, explain what patterns you have made.

There was a great variety in the patterns that students constructed. Some were made of layers of border patterns making courtyards, others had chequerboard patterns on the walls and some of them had 'windows'. Several houses showed symmetry, and one incorporated triangular prisms as well as cubes.

For some photographs of the results, look at the article Teaching Early Mathematics "Smarter Not Harder" about three-dimensional patterns on the AAMT website.

Mrs K concluded that it had been a valuable assessment exercise. It had also allowed her to revise many geometrical terms and to show that many three-dimensional shapes are made in congruent layers.

Curriculum links

Year 1: Investigate and describe number patterns formed by skip counting and patterns with objects