Monday, May 30, 2011

Mathematics: Patterning/Sequencing/Seriating - Part 2

A few days ago, I was talking about matching and classifying and its implications in the curriculum of a preschooler and junior infant pupil. Today, I am writing the second part of the post: seriation.

So what is seriation? It  involves comparing or putting objects or sets into a sequence (from first to last for instance). It is a prerequisite for patterning. Seriation builds on the child's awareness of different attributes and is another way children learn about their world. The children could do seriation when they focus on gross differences (longer/shorter, bigger/smaller etc..). Montessori  designed brilliant pieces of equipment for the children. For instance, the wooden cylinders.

They allow children from 3 up to order the cylinders by diameter and depth. Same with the knobless cylinders.

And of course, there is the Pink tower and the Brown Stair:


The children can also explore finer distinctions and create patterns for example when they arrange several things one after another in a pattern (making a bead necklace) or when they fit one ordered set of objects to another through trial of error (small cup and samll saucer/ medium cup and medium saucer etc..).   I have stocked lots of different items for the children to order by attributes : balls, stones, bolts, buttons,  plastic teddy bears counters etc... We also have several jigsaws with pictures: the children have to put the pictures in order to make a story. 

When using such materials, the children have to be able to use appropriate language when ordering the sets such as “bigger, smaller, wider, broader, thinner etc....

In our classroom, the children also use the bead patterning wooden box. This is Montessori designed but it follows the same principles.

As you can see on the picture above, the children pick a card with a specific pattern. Using wooden beads with different shapes and colours, the children have to follow the pattern on the card, sliding the beads onto a little pole. This game requires a strong ability at ordering, sequencing and following patterns, as the children have to consider both shapes and colour at the same time. Of course, simple wooden beads can be used and it is so easy to make your own pattern cards if you have a laminator.

Here are a few of the other materials we use for teaching the children about patterning, sequencing, order and seriating:

The list is of course not exhaustive but I didn't have time to make any more photos. Sorry!


  1. We do most of these activities with C ..and They have great results..
    Thanks for bringing this up.

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