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Patterns in shapes

Look at these two shapes.

Two closed shapes: on the left, a random curved scribble; on the right, a rectangle.

The shape on the left is a scribble -- there is no regularity to it.

But the shape on the right definitely has some structure. Here are some of its properties:

  • the opposite sides are parallel and the same length
  • all the angles are equal
  • it is symmetrical about vertical and horizontal mirror lines.

These properties are like rules that tell you how the shape is made. So this shape has a definite pattern.

An exploration of shapes and their properties should therefore be included in patterning activities.

Many of these shapes (like the rectangle above) can be found everywhere around us; others may be constructed using the ideas that arise in exploring our environment.

Shapes can also be used as units in repeating patterns and growing patterns.

The language of shapes

Pattern blocks provide an excellent introduction to some basic geometrical concepts.