From Patterns to Algebra, the second that I was given the chance to explore, play, and investigate, stands at the forefront of an amazing patterning and algebra resource.

This blog is essentially a love letter to Dr. Cathy Bruce and Dr. Ruth Beatty — and how they seamlessly weave play, patterns, and rich opportunities for students and teachers to immerse themselves in the joy of patterning (Hey! I said I was going to write the blog, so here I am):

I’ll let the introduction of the book speak for itself (as seen on page 1, and in the pdf sample you can access here):

Mathematics has been called “the science of patterns” (Steen, 1988). Young children enjoy working with patterns, and older students enjoy discovering and manipulating patterns. In fact, it is human nature to nd patterns in our everyday experiences. Some educators and mathematicians would go so far as to say that patterning is the foundation of mathematics (Lee, 1996; Mason, 1996)

Let’s start with how the first lesson revolves around playing a game: Guess My Rule. Right away this game is A) super fun, and inviting to students — all of students really loved playing it, and B) gets students to make the relationship between term number and the output — and how the two interact.

My students loved this game so much that this happened:

(also cool is how this student used Google Draw to create the table, screenshot it, and add it to Kahoot).

My students willingly played this game — and often. I added some elements by using cards- whatever you flipped up became the pattern rule — and putting the black line master in page protectors so my students could play when they were finishing other work – or for recess (yes, a lot of my students like to stay in and play math for recess).

Playing Guess My Rule was fantastic, because, when we got to creating and looking at patterns, we already had some understanding of the relationship between input and output.

This is another reason why this resource is so great — the patterns are visual. Everything students do with this resource is creating and analyzing visual patterns; making students see how accessible and tangible patterns can be. Students can manipulate patterns, and can play with them – and feel like anything they create can easily be added to, changed, or redirected without losing the visual representation. Students were able to make connections quickly – and talk about the patterns we were examining. Students could also identify the pattern quickly, move to graphing linear patterns, and determining the nth term.

Below are some of the awesome ways we used the resource — and really, we’ve only just touched on it. Dr. Beatty and Dr. Bruce have created a place where non-intimidating patterning play can happen; and deep connections can be made.

See the images below – -some have captions so you can see a little more about what we did as a class.