Do your kids insist that linear patterns are the only true patterns? So often, if my kids can't list it in a neat little row, they don't think it qualifies as a pattern. For instance, if they can say it in a clear order (red, white, blue, red, white, blue, red, white, blue), they're good; but when I show patterns like this:
... they get all bent outta shape. This project seems to help them understand pattern (as repetition) a bit better. We discuss what pattern is and locate examples throughout the room before moving onto animal patterns. Animal patterns like giraffe, zebra, and cheetah patterns really help them to see what constitutes a pattern, regardless of finite regularity.
I do let my little ones use black Sharpies for this (I <3 black Sharpies) to avoid smudging their turtle bodies. Here's what we do:
Draw an oval that almost fills the paper. Give that oval a triangular tail on one end and a head on the other. Your head needs a face!
How many legs does a turtle have? No, not 6, silly kid in the back. Yes, 4. Draw 'em.
Next, 2 vertical lines and 3 horizontal lines finish Mr. (or Mrs. or Ms. or Miss) Turtle's shell. Now put away those Sharpies--you're makin' me nervous, tiny children.
Fill every space with a different pattern, pressing firmly with those construction paper crayons. Leave white space--we need it for next time!
On the second day of our project, we cut out the turtles and paint them. I opted to use liquid watercolors for this project and I'm thrilled with the bright, bold results!
As the kiddos finish their painting, I have them create a pattern around the edge of a black sheet of paper. This year I used 12" square paper, though in the past I've done the backgrounds in a variety of ways.
This year, emphasizing the quilt aspect of this project, I'm going to hang all of the black squares in a quilt-like pattern. (We talk about quilts beforehand.)
My memory fails me again, as I don't know where I found the original inspiration for this project. If this was your brainchild and you'd like to lay claim, let me know and I'll sing your praises!