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Concrete to abstract

Patterns become more and more abstract between the Foundation year and year 3.

In the Foundation year students are only expected to explore patterns with objects.

In year 1 skip counting leads to simple number sequences.

By year 2 students are expected to be able to skip count from an arbitrary starting number and to investigate other number sequences.

In year 3 the possibility of sequences formed by subtraction is included.


It is important that such abstract number sequences are related to previous concrete experiences with patterns.

For example, skip counting from zero should always be related to repeating patterns, number lines and rectangular grids.

Skip counting from an arbitrary starting number is best related to jumps on a number line.

Students should be encouraged to verbalise their thinking at every opportunity.


Beware of asking students to continue a number pattern or to find missing numbers without any context or stated rule.

A pattern of numbers can be continued in an infinite number of ways if there is no reason to prefer a particular type of pattern.

Making number sequences real

Number sequences can be made real by finding them in familiar situations and in previous hands-on mathematics activities.

Curriculum links

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

Year 2: Investigate numbers sentences, initially those increasing and decreasing by twos, threes, fives and ten from any starting point, then moving to other sequences

Year 2: Describe patterns with numbers and identify missing elements

Year 3: Describe, continue and create number patterns resulting from performing addition or subtraction