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Lesson Plan #: AELP-ATH0032
Submitted by: Meg Van Metre
Email: vanmm5h0@numen.elon.edu
School/University/Affiliation: Elon College, Elon College, N.C.
Endorsed by: Deborah Thurlow
             Assistant Professor of Education – Elon College, Elon College, N.C. Date: May 10, 1999

Grade Level(s): 4


  • Mathematics/Arithmetic

Duration: 45 minutes Description: This lesson is the result of work completed in the class Mathematics and Science Methods and Materials for Elementary Teachers at Elon College. Lessons were prepared for and implemented in 4th grade classrooms at Haw River Elementary School, Haw River, NC.

Goals: Competency Goal 3: Patterns and Relationships – The learner will demonstrate an understanding of patterns and relationships (Fourth Grade North Carolina Standard Course of Study for Mathematics).

Objectives: The students will…

  • Identify patterns as they occur in mathematical sequences.
  • Extend and make geometric patterns.
  • Identify strategies using patterns with numbers.
  • Create Number Spirals using patterns with numbers.
  • Materials:

    • rulers
    • pencils
    • fine tipped markers
    • construction paper (optional)
    • glue ( optional)
    • scissors (optional)
    • Number Spiral
    • Number Spiral in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

      Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.

    Note: Unfortunately, the original number spiral ditto was not included with this lesson plan. AskERIC has created the above sample of what the number spiral should look like (this is an approximate sketch). Procedure:

    Introduction of patterns – Connecting to prior knowledge and experience:

    Go over the patterns we often see in math (number, letter, geometric, and patterns using symbols). Ask students to come to the board and write examples of these types of patterns. Have other students come up to the board and continue these patterns. Discuss different strategies students can use to complete patterns or figure them out. (ex. 2, 4, 6, 8, _ , a strategy to use would be the carets  (^) in between the numbers to show how much to add or take away. Above this you would write +2).

    Place the examples of patterns on the board for the class to see. ( Note: The number spirals are large circles with a star at the top, with the numbers 1 – 18 all the way around them like a clock. The numbers are equally spaced.) Go over one entire Number Spiral Pattern with the class on the overhead to show verbal and visual directions. Assign one Number Spiral Pattern in class for students to practice on.

    Directions on how to teach Number Spiral Patterns:

    First take out the worksheet with the circle on it and get your pencil out. Next pick a number from 2 – 9 and write this on the top corner of your paper. Put your pencil on the star and count from there the number of spaces you chose. For example, if you chose 4 count over to four and draw a straight line with your ruler from the star to the number four. Now start on number four and count (clockwise) four more spaces. You will draw a line to number eight. You will continue to do this all the way around until you end up back at the star. The star is zero. (4, 8, 12, 16, 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 3, 7, 11, 15, the star)

    Once the students have completed their patterns in pencil, have them trace over them in marker. For an extra challenge, ask them to choose a larger number and draw it on the same circle. The designs are beautiful!

    What to look for:

    When the students are creating their patterns ask them, What are you noticing about patterns that have been created with smaller numbers? (The patterns will be smaller and closer to the outside circle). What do you notice when you look at patterns drawn with larger numbers? (The patterns are larger and pointier).


    Optional – Have students cut out their patterns and paste them on construction paper, to make them look nice. Assign for homework the following: A pattern that uses 3 different sets of numbers, on one circle. Example: 2, 4, and 6.

    Assessment: This lesson was specifically designed as a review lesson for the Fourth and Fifth grade (split class), in preparation for the End of Grade Test. The assessment took place as the students worked on their patterns in class. Also, if you choose to give homework, an assessment can take place then, checking the consistency and understanding of number patterns and how to continue them.

    Special Comments: I got the idea for using this lesson from a Mathematics Activity book I borrowed from my cooperating teacher. I do not take any credit for the ideas on this lesson plan.