Early Elementary educators always have the coolest interactive tools on the Internet available to them. From websites that help read to students, to virtual math manipulatives, there’s always a clever new way to turn a physical process into a virtual one that usually helps encourage greater understanding of a lesson or concept. Especially when the concept is something visual, like pattern recognition. The fun little interactive Pattern Generator at Shodor.org is just another example of how Early El teacher get “all the fabulous toys.”
Thanks to the wonderful educators at the Hope CE Primary School in Shropshire, England, I pick up little gems from the web that they use throughout their school. This particular gem, the Pattern Generator, is one of the more robust pattern tools that I’ve found in awhile. With three different levels of difficulty, and a setting to randomly choose the difficulty level with each new pattern, there’s enough settings to satisfy even the most differentiated learning styles. Because the patterns are virtual, and not paper and crayon or plastic blocks, it’s much easier to quickly reset the board to start again, or switch from one pattern type to another. The patterns come in different lengths as well, from as little as 30 spaces to 80 spaces. And with the more difficult patterns, it’s possible to easily scroll down through all of the spaces to see what the pattern looks like “down the road” in order to help fill in gaps towards the beginning.
It’s really a fun little tool, and well worth any teacher of mathematics, whether you’re working with struggling, competent, or excelling learners. Every new pattern that is displayed is different than the last, and the user can come across everything from numbers, to shapes, colors, and image patterns. As I said before, it’s websites like this that make me wish I had some early elementary students as well as my older students, if not to help the students with their pattern recognition, but to help show other teachers that they don’t have to use the computers for just Accelerated Reader and drawing pictures.