The five different types of pattern problems found in this book are:
- Pattern Predictor
- Equality Explorer
- Sequence Sleuth
- Number Ninja
- Function Finder
From a developmental perspective, the ability to recognize a pattern signals the transition from concrete to abstract thinking. So having students explore pattern problems helps sensitize them to the discovery process that provides a foundation for authentic learning and abstraction. These activities are independent and self-contained, but tend to build on one another and get gradually more sophisticated. Calculators are never needed, and their use is discouraged.
Parents and teachers should encourage students to pursue these pattern problems with a sense of adventure and perseverance. Although this book’s patterns are appropriate for grades 3 and 4, experiences with these activities may vary widely depending upon readiness for abstraction. There are many ways to solve and explain a pattern problem, and the solutions provided are not intended to be unique. In all situations, and at whatever pace and facility, the transition from concrete to abstract thinking is worthwhile.