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Math Tools Grades 3–12 (2nd edition)

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Math(s) tools are ways to build mathematical practices, differentiate instruction and increase student engagement.

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Home > Topdrawer > Patterns > Big ideas

Big ideas

Patterns and algebra is a substrand of the Number and Algebra strand of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics. However, patterning ideas arise in other substrands of this strand, and also in the Measurement and Geometry and the Statistics and Probability strands. Many of the substrands can be approached from the ideas of patterns. You can look at a list of content descriptions from the Foundation year through to year 3 in Patterns and their Applications in the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics.

We are going to look at the big ideas of patterns that thread through the various substrands of the curriculum. The big ideas included in the Patterns drawer embrace a large proportion of the separate content descriptions for each year level. So each big idea helps in thinking about many topics in the curriculum.

Focussing on the big ideas can also help integrate the different strands. In particular, patterns can link many ideas in number and geometry.

Patterns are everywhere

Patterns can be found in a wide variety of situations, both in the classroom and outside. Students enjoy looking for patterns around them.

Mathematical patterns are regular

In mathematics, we are interested in regular patterns. There must be some rule telling us 'how it goes' — otherwise, it is not mathematics.

Repeating patterns

Repeating patterns are extremely important in early mathematics. In this type of pattern, there is a fixed unit of repeat.

Growing patterns

A growing pattern is made up of 'chunks', called terms, that change in a regular way.

Patterns in shapes

Some shapes are 'random', but others are patterns.