For this post I made three sets of different patterns. I'll share a yummy choc-chip recipe at the end of this post, but any cookie recipe will do to use as a visual.
You may choose to vary the level of difficulty in number patterns presented depending on your class level/ability.
I've outlined my instruction/questioning suggestions within this post.:
The First Cookie Batch Pattern Sequence
1. Display one set of cookies in their pattern sequence (like in the photo above). I recommend using the basic choc-chips, or something all in one color first.)
2. Ask students to observe the arrangement of cookies. Discuss what they see, and direct towards looking for a number pattern. Some questions you could ask to guide, include:
- What do you notice about the cookies?
- Can you see a pattern?
- What is the pattern doing?
You may get a variety of answers, such as (if using a pattern like in the image above): more choc-chips are added to each cookie; There is an odd number of choc-chips; two extra choc-chips are added to each cookie.
After discussing student observations, ask (and guide if necessary) if they can come up with a rule for the pattern presented in the cookies. Model out your thoughts if necessary.
'There seems to be a growing number of choc-chips on the cookies. It starts off with 3, then 5, 7, 9, 11. The difference in choc-chips between each cookie is 2. So each time, two more choc-chips are added. So the rule must be 'Add 2.'
After coming up with the pattern rule, draw three circles (to represent empty cookies) on the board. (or instruct students to draw them on a piece of paper). Instruct students to continue the pattern by drawing the choc-chips on to the empty cookies to represent each number. If students are coping well at this point, extend the task for them to come up with the next three or more numbers in the sequence without the use of drawing choc-chips on the cookies and applying the pattern rule.
When doing instructional lessons like this, I like to do more than one example, so I will share the other cookie sequences I made.
Second Cookie Pattern Sequence
I went with mini M&M's for this batch because they were smaller and worked better for squeezing lots onto a single cookie.
Exploring number patterns with larger quantities can get quite tricky when working with average sized cookies. As you can see in the image above, the cookie base had to get a little bit bigger to accommodate all of the M&M's.
If you decide to go with M&M's, the colors may confuse some students; however, I think it would also be a fantastic initial challenge to see who can look beyond the colors and see that the pattern lies in the quantities.
Similar to the suggestions in the first batch of cookies, guide students through figuring out the pattern rule (perhaps with a little less guidance to see if they are catching on the thought process).
Depending how your students are going with the concept, this time instruct them to draw the next three cookies of the pattern themselves to continue the number sequence. Then another three numbers just applying the rule.
For the third cookie pattern sequence, again depending how the class went with the first two, just display the cookies.
Third Cookie Pattern Sequence
Yeah.....That first cookie with lots of choc-chips should have 20 -just in case you miss counting the one choc-chip hanging off the side at the bottom left of it. Baking isn't one of my strengths;. I must admit that I got more excited about the math part when making these.)
For the third round of cookie patterns, see if students can independently figure out the pattern rule and solve what the next number in the sequence should be.
For this particular sequence, the next number would be 0 as the rule is 'subtract 4.' If doing this with older or gifted students, you could set the challenge to come up with the next three numbers of the sequence and dive into negative integers. So then in this example, 0, -4, -8.
Once students are ready, discuss answers as a class.
Then, you could use the free worksheet I have provided in the download below, to continue practicing this style of cookie patterns. The download includes to cookie pattern practice sheets and a free empty cookie pattern template for students to have a go at creating their own number patterns.
Free Worksheet & Template Download below
At the end of the lesson, enjoy sharing the cookies to eat with your class. You might need to set some sort of competition (or use as a reward) to give students choices of which cookie . . . I know which cookie I'd want!
- Set the challenge for the student who can figure out all the pattern rules first; or
- who can come up with the most interesting number patterns.
Super Easy Cookie Recipe for the busy Teacher
So for those of you who are not keen on baking, but want to quickly whip up a batch of cookies for a math lesson, this recipe is super easy. Definitely not the yummiest chocolate-chip cookie recipe I've made, but when using for mathematical purposes and short on time this one wins.
Preheat oven to 356F or 180C. Grease 2 baking trays with melted butter.
Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between each addition until combined. Stir in the flour until combined. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
Roll 2-teaspoons portions of the mixture into balls. Place, about 5cm apart, on the prepared trays. Use a fork to flatten slightly. If planning to make patterns with large quantities, you may need to fiddle around with the size of your cookies to accommodate.
Arrange chocolate chips onto your cookies (I like to make the patterns per row on the tray). Bake for 18 minutes or until golden and just cooked through. Set aside on the trays for 10 minutes to cool.
Below are my very rushed cookies (a 3 year old- and 8 month old around my legs in the kitchen makes it a little challenging.)
So there's a new and different approach to starting out your number patterns unit. If you would like to share your cookie patterns or teaching ideas with this, I;d love to hear them and share with everyone.
Are you looking for more fun ways to practice number patterns? You may like to try my Patterns Math Mystery 'Case of The Poisonous Pizzas.' It comes with a video introduction (view below) to 'hook' your students into the activity.
Click on the cover images below to find out the pattern skills covered in each grade edition. The clues are interchangeable if you need to differentiate this activity for your students.
You may also be interested in this Patterns Games Page which provides a menu of free games provided on other websites. CLICK HERE TO VIEW.
Thank you for reading and checking out my website!
A 21st century School Teacher, Mother, and Wife.