Early Elementary Makes me Jealous – Fun with Patterns!

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.”

Pattern Generator

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.


  1. So glad you found our Pattern Generator! I thought I should take a moment and reply because this is just one of 110 different activities on Shodor’s Interactivate website. Interactivate actually has activities for many different math concepts – not just at the elementary levels – but at middle and secondary levels too. Click on the “Activities” link to see a list of all the activities available.

    One of my favorites is our Data Flyer which allows you to graph mathematical functions and then each coefficient becomes connected to a slider bar allowing the user to dynamically change these values and see how changing those values effect the graph. Beyond that, you can also enter in data sets and try to identify functions which best describe that data by inputting a function and using the sliders to visually manipulate the function.

    I am the project manager for the Interactivate website. The site is free and contains a even more than just the activities – such as lesson plans, dictionary, discussions, etc. Feel free to contact me with any other comments or questions. There is a link at the bottom all Interactivate pages and those emails come directly to me.

  2. I am so grateful to you for sharing this site! I have an abundance of online literacy resources that I use with my 2nd grade students, but always have trouble finding quality math activities. I am currently teaching patterns and look forward to using this tool.

    This is certainly an example of how technology can improve activities in the classroom. I am, of course, able to demonstrate patterns without this tool, but it takes time to rearrange pattern blocks or to create patterns ahead of time to display on a projector. This tool will do all the work for me! I love that technology enables us to do things differently, and usually easier, than we were able to do them in the past.

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