Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Pattern Detectives

Sandi King
Bay District Schools


As an introduction to the Unit Plan, Patterns, Patterns Everywhere, students are asked to become Pattern Detectives. This literature-based lesson exposes students to patterns in language, math, and science.


The student knows patterns of sound in oral language (for example, rhyming, choral poetry, chants).

The student uses repetition, rhyme, and rhythm in oral and written texts (for example, recites songs, poems, and stories with repeating patterns; substitutes words in a rhyming pattern).

The student identifies simple patterns of sounds, physical movements, and concrete objects.

The student predicts and extends existing patterns using concrete materials.

The student uses concrete objects to create a pattern.

The student transfers patterns from one medium to another (for example, actions, sounds, or concrete objects).

The student understands that continuous patterns occur in nature (for example, seasons, phases of the Moon, blooming flowers).


-Williams, Rozanne Lanczak. [Mr. Noisy's Book of Patterns]. Cypress, CA: Creative Teaching Press, Inc., 1995.
- Benton, Linda. [I See Patterns]. Cypress, CA: Creative Teaching Press, Inc., 1995.
-Polenghi, Evan. [A Traditional Chant]. "Miss Mary Mack" (song) NY, NY: Scholastic Inc., 1994.
-A class chart of the song "Miss Mary Mack"
-Cowley, Joy. [Mrs. Wishy-Washy]. Bothell, WA: The Wright Group, 1988.
-Carle, Eric. [The Tiny Seed]. New York: Crowell, 1970.
-Strips of neon colored, see through, book protector available in rolls from most discount stores
- Pattern detective badges downloaded from the attached files
-Unifix cubes
-Dry erase boards and markers
-The diagnostic assessment available from the unit plan's associated files (see Extensions)


1. Obtain and become familiar with the books listed in the Materials section.

2. Prepare the following materials for student use: baskets of unifix cubes, dry erase or chalk boards, and sets of dry erase markers or chalk.

3. Obtain and become familiar with the song "Miss Mary Mack." Make a poster or chart with the song "Miss Mary Mack."

4. The teacher should obtain strips of neon colored transparent book cover paper for student use. Purchase transparent neon colored book covers and then cut strips in lengths sufficient to cover pattern words on the chart. The size of the words on the chart will determine the length of the strips. Rolls of this book cover material in a selection of colors is available at discount stores.

7. Download the Pattern Detective badges from the associated files. Duplicate, cut out, and write students' names on the badges. Each student should have a badge. If possible, duplicate on construction paper.

8. Download the Diagnostic Assessment, Patterns, Patterns Everywhere from the unit's associated files. This is a class tool, so one copy is sufficient.


Day 1
(NOTE: If planned accordingly, the diagnostic assessment could be administered on another day so the instruction and assessment are done separately.)

1. Give the diagnostic assessment. The assessment can be administered full group, small group, or during centers.

2. During whole group time, read the book [Mr. Noisy's Book of Patterns] by Rozanne Lanczak Williams. Take time to discuss the patterns revealed in the book. Encourage students to verbalize about the patterns, explaining what a pattern is and what would come next. A substitute book could be [I See Patterns] by Linda Benton.

3. Tell the children that today they will become pattern detectives as they look for patterns in math, language, and science in our class, at home, and in the world. Emphasize the importance of being able to recognize patterns because patterns help us learn about numbers, words, and nature. Distribute the pattern detective badges downloaded from the attached files. Students can wear these badges while being detectives. (See the note to teachers at the end of these instructions for further uses of the badge.)

4. Define and demonstrate that a pattern keeps repeating itself. Encourage students to define patterns in their own words. Emphasize the idea that patterns must repeat themselves. Allow students to share their ideas about patterns with the class.

5. Model some patterns using your hands, such as clap, snap, clap, snap, etc. Encourage students to identify your pattern and join in.

6. Reread the book [Mr. Noisy's Book of Patterns]. Have the children participate in each pattern that Mr. Noisy makes. (Examples: Hi!, Hello!, Hi!, Hello!, Hi!, Hello!/ click, click, clack!, click, click, clack!, click, click, clack!, etc). Emphasize that these are patterns in language. On the last couple of pages of the book, have the students verbally predict and then extend each pattern. Use this extended pattern activity as a formative assessment giving corrective and affirmative feedback. Be sure the students can explain the pattern, predict what will come next, and then extend the pattern. All responses should generate feedback. For example, students can be affirmed by the teacher restating the child's response and telling why it is correct. Students can receive corrective feedback by the teacher guiding the student to find the correct answer. In response to an incorrect explanation of clap, snap, snap, clap, snap, snap, the teacher could say something, such as "Did you hear one clap, then two snaps? Listen and I'll do it again. What did you hear this time?" It may also be advantageous to say the clap, snap as you are doing it. The more mediums in which the children experience the patterns, the more they will understand not only pattern identification, but also the transfer of patterns to different mediums.

7. During math time, remind students about the patterns found in [Mr. Noisy's Book of Patterns]. Ask the students to describe a math pattern, such as a circle, square, circle, etc., or red, blue, red, etc. Model creating a pattern using unifix cubes. Have the students take turns verbally predicting and then extending each pattern. Teachers should ask students to answer the question, What do you think will come next? Then have them explain their reasoning before they extend the pattern.

8. Have students create their own patterns using unifix cubes. Have a student verbalize why this is a pattern. Choose another student to predict what comes next, and then extend the pattern. Look for student's ability to verbalize the pattern and prediction. Student's extension should follow the exact pattern. Formatively assess and give affirmative, as well as corrective feedback. Restating the student's explanation, while letting them know that they are correct, assists all students in learning. Guidance should be given to students who give incorrect responses so that they discover their mistakes. Then affirmative feedback can be given. Students learn best by discovery. As teachers, we must guide their discoveries and then reward them for their discoveries.

Day 2
1. Review the definition of patterns. Have students verbalize what they know about patterns.

2. During whole group time, read [Mrs. Wishy-Washy] by Joy Cowley. Be sure to emphasize the pattern of repeated words and rhythm used in the book. Have students use these patterns as they recite the book in unisonNature patterns of mamas and babies can also be established.

3. During whole group time, sing the song “Miss Mary Mack” to the students or play a recording. Ask children if they notice a pattern in the song. If they do not, tell them that certain words are repeated three times in a row (Mack, Mack, Mack and black, black, black, etc.).

4. Sing the song again with the children using the pattern discovered to join in the singing. Point to the words on the class chart of the song. After singing, choose children to come up and highlight the patterns using the transparent book cover strips. Specifically identify the rhyming words that form a pattern as well as the repetition that forms a pattern.

5. Encourage students to verbalize the similarities in the repeated words. Look for patterns in the way the words are written.

6. During math, review the unifix pattern introduced in Day 1 activities. Be sure to both model and have students model creating, predicting, and extending patterns. Extend this activity by teaching students to label the patterns such as A-B, A-B or A-A-B, A-A-B. Have students transfer various A, B patterns to unifix patterns.

7. During science, read [The Tiny Seed] by Eric Carle. Extend the pattern detective theme to finding patterns in nature. Have students verbalize patterns in how things grow, blooming flowers, phases of the moon, etc. Have students look for other patterns while outside during playtime. Formatively assess student’s knowledge of patterns in nature as they share the pattern they found or as they discuss the patterns found by others. Corrective feedback should be given by guiding the student to discover why or why not their pattern is actually a pattern. Affirmative feedback should be given by restating the child's response and explaining why it it correct. All students can benefit from verbal feedback that explains.

8. During center time, have students create a pattern of unifix cubes in the math center. The language arts center should have the chart of the song “Miss Mary Mack” for students to identify patterns in the written word. The science center will have drawing paper or dry-erase boards for students to draw a pattern in nature. Activities from these centers can be used to check the Summative Assessment 4 checklist, downloadable from the Beacon Learning Center Unit Plan page.

9. Challenge students to look for patterns throughout the evening at home and in other real- world settings. Remind students that they will be asked to share the patterns they found with the class tomorrow.

Note to teachers -
During this unit, students complete individual pattern books which should include at least these six pages: Day 3 - insect sticker page, Day 4 – Summative Assessment 1, Day 5 – Summative Assessment 2, Day 6 – Nature Patterns worksheet, Day 7 – Summative Assessment 3, Day 9 – Summative Assessment 4. They can also use their detective badges to decorate the covers of their pattern books at the end of this unit.


A performance diagnostic assessment is administered prior to any instruction. The tool used to record the data from this assessment is available from the unit plan's associated files.

Formative assessments of all standards addressed in this lesson should be a constant part of the activities. Affirmative and corrective feedback increases understanding. For further details see procedure 8 on day 1 and procedure 7 on day 2.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).

2. The song and dance "The Hokey Pokey" is a demonstration of the use of patterns in oral language. The action of the dance is also a pattern. This can be used in addition to the suggested activites or instead of ones suggested.

3. Students can perform the musical "Bugz" from: [A Musical Play for Young Voices] by John Hacobson and Hohn Higgins. Hal Leonard Corporation. Milwaukee, WI. 1999. This is a wonderful way to integrate the arts with your study of patterns.

4. Other suggested books:
Cowley, Joy. [I'm Glad to Say]. Bothell, WA: The Wright Group, 1988.
Whitford, Paul. [Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet]. New York: Harper Trophy, 1991.
Aylesworth, Jim. [Old Black Fly]. New York: Holt, 1995.

Attached Files

The badge graphic for the pattern detectives     File Extension: pdf

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