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Build math sense with counting patterns

We all count with our children. It is a good thing to do as we walk, drive in the car, sort and count money, or collections of things. It wasn't until I was teaching math, that I consciously realized that when you count by 2s or 5s, or even 10s, you don't always have to start at 2, 5, or 10, but you get a similar shaped pattern if you build it on the number line or hundreds chart. So, no wonder I had a terrible anxiety about adding numbers in my head!

We all know the even pattern of 2, 4, 6, 8 . . . but, if you start at 1, you are still counting by two, but you get the odd numbers. If you start at any number, say 27, you will still get the odd numbers.

The 5, 10, 15 pattern, if started at 7, is 7, 12, 17, 22, 27, . . .  If you use a hundreds chart, a child can see the same parallel lines going down the 2 and 7 row. She will also learn that any 7 + 5 will end with a 2 in the one's column. So that basic fact of 7+5=12 is memorized. And, by building this pattern with buttons or transparent bingo chips on a hundreds chart, the child has used visual and kinesthetic memory.

Getting ready to sort and count the different colored tomatoes!
Pattern making with numbers builds that important number sense. Identifying a pattern by its starting point (which, again, can be anywhere), recognizing a growing or shrinking or repeating pattern, and how much it increases or decreases are all things that you can talk about with your child. Talk about what you see with the numbers and this will build that curiosity that we all need about math. And, you don't have to know all the answers.

Try using lego blocks and recognizing the number of bumps on the block. Change pattern, orientation, colour, number and you are giving your child a whole new world of understanding in math. Encourage the exploration of number and pattern, and you will genuinely be surprised at understanding things that you might have only learned by rote a long time ago!