Have you seen the freestanding table loom in our classroom? This weaving was begun six or seven years ago by the then-current class of kindergartners. Moving the shuttle over one string, under the next, over, under, and over again perfectly echoes the rhythm of the simplest of patterns we’ve been studying in math, an AB pattern. Over the years, every student in every class has added an inch or two to the woven piece on this loom. When completed (and we’re nearly there!), this could become a small table mat, or perhaps a blanket for the dolls in the cradle.

At this time of year, children are busy making gifts for their families. One of their holiday gifts is a woven potholder. The rhythm to make it is the same – over, under, over, under. Add a color pattern to that, and the potholders begin to look quite striking. Sometimes those color patterns get complex – for example, AABB – while still maintaining the AB pattern of construction.

We like to talk about patterns, and there are patterns everywhere we look. Sometimes the children discover that they’re sitting in a pattern – “Look, Ms. Patel! We’re sitting girl, girl, boy, girl, girl, boy. That’s an AAB pattern!” Or they notice that their shirts make a pattern with long sleeves and short sleeves arranged just so. Sometimes our conversations veer in unexpected ways, and we end up talking about patterns of behavior. And sometimes patterns lead into discussions about symmetry and asymmetry. Another of our holiday gifts might incorporate a symmetrical design (or it might not – you’ll have to wait and see what your child decides!)

Patterns, symmetry, and balance are mathematical terms that also belong in art. It’s exciting to see where the children’s imaginations take these concepts!