Using straws to create AB patterns

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on November 15, 2009

in Cognitive Development, Mathematics, Straws

Straws are cheap, accessible, and come in all sizes and colors. This is what makes straws such a great resource for creating patterns in the preschool classroom.

When first introducing patterns, start with a simple AB pattern. Notice that there are only two colors in this pattern. There is no difference in size – just color. This keeps the focus on one significant difference in creating a simple pattern.

This pattern is still an AB pattern but now the only difference is size rather than color.

This pattern may still seem simple, but notice that there are two different attributes. There is a change in color and in size. However, the short straws are all blue and the tall straws are all red. This still keeps the pattern fairly simple.

This pattern is a little more complex because of the change in direction. However, because we have still only used two colors, the pattern still has a simple AB focus.

AB patterns are all around

As your students learn to identify simple AB patterns, they will begin to make patterns out of other objects as they play, create, construct. Start with simple AB patterns before moving on to more complex pattern forms.

Here is a little activity students can do to reinforce AB patterns.

  1. Give each child  a sheet of 11×17 paper.
  2. Fold the paper into three parts (length-wise)
  3. Begin the pattern by either drawing lines to show which way a pattern is to go or by drawing shapes, or by using colors.
  4. Have the children finish the pattern.
  5. See the photos below as one example of this activity but keep in mind this activity can have numerous approaches using everything from straws, stickers, crayons, paper cutouts, and so on.

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