In our discussions about designing a game of hopscotch as a gift for the children at Hyde elementary, Maren and Emilia explained the rules of the game. Here's an excerpt:
Maren: Jump, hop, jump, hop....
Emilia: Then skip. You can't cheat in this game - you're out. This would be cheating - if you're just walking.
Maren: Hop, skip, jump, hop on one leg... (She demonstrates many styles of jumping)
Emilia: It has to be a race! Our moms and dads can come and cheer for us. And brothers and sisters.
Gigi: I love hopping so much.
This dialogue was valuable in many ways. But we as teachers realized that hopscotch requires hopping in a pattern of one leg and then two legs. If we want to make our own hopscotch rules, we'll need to know what a pattern is. We wanted to know if children might have different understandings of how a pattern works and how to create one.
We decided to investigate this using the magnetic white board. We explained at meeting that we would like children to make a pattern that repeats. Some data we are collecting is that while many children can easily read an established pattern, they sometimes struggle to make their own from scratch. Many times we saw children's "pattern" become a line of unrelated shapes. Usually with guidance from a friend or teacher, they are able to develop a rhythm. Colors are easier for them to interpret when they read the pattern aloud.
Meanwhile, it's been a fun opportunity for children to work together. Some excerpts:
Evelyn: Diamond… red… diamond… red… diamond..... blue… (Evelyn is smiling, playing a little joke on us)
Fletcher: (smiling) Nooo, nooo, nooo… red, red, red, red.
Brooke: Can we make a pattern with the magnetic shapes here?
Gigi: I like that idea.
Lane: How about we put them together, like touching each other. Then we can put all different shapes different ways. So this is your side, this is my side.
Gigi: Okay, but how about I make a little down here. (they start doing their own patterns)
Lane: This looks so cool. Yay, yay, yay, yay, yay.
Gigi: That’s turning out good. Do you like mine?