I have long been a fan of Steve Wyborney’s blog where he shares plenty of engaging and different ideas to develop mathematical thinking. Although based in Oregon, the ideas are still very relevant to the UK curriculum.
I recently came across his use of dot patterns to promote ‘noticing’ – not something we necessarily spend a lot of time on, but I now wonder why we don’t.
One big focus in mathematics teaching currently is the use of small step and space to let children think. This sort of activity undoubtedly lends itself towards these ideas.
Steve has created 10 pages of dotted patterns, the purpose of which is to promote a wide variety of partitioning, seeking different perspectives and recording observations in ways that can be very useful. I would guarantee there will be children in every class who see a different pattern or way of breaking things up to draw out different mathematics every time.
He recommends using 18 copies of the same pattern with the space underneath being vital to allow plenty of working room and many opportunities to explore the same thing in different ways.
The following image is from his explanation video of how to use the patterns (found here), demonstrating 4 ways to investigate one such pattern.
For a greater challenge, once children are used to working with these, you could develop more complex images with different coloured dots – each colour being worth a separate value – to explore larger numbers, perhaps. Each dot doesn’t need to necessarily only be worth 1, either.
The 10 patterns and some further information can be found at the link below.