I am an advocate for ecological education. Ecological educators focus their attention on interactions, interdependencies, relationships and connections. This point of view has many implications for those of us who support children learning. One of those implications has to do with the content of what we hope children will learn. My experiences first as a learner in public schools and then as a supervisor of student and in-service teachers was that much of what children are expected to learn is school was presented as disconnected tidbits that where very hard to remember because they were all disconnected.
One of the concepts I like to support children learning about is patterns that connect. Patterns like grains, spheres, webs, symmetry, fibers, tubes, bundles, sheets, layers, branches, cycles and spirals. What makes these patterns, patterns that connect is that we find them everywhere. Stop reading for a moment and thing of examples of tubes from your everyday experience. I think of straws, pipes, grasses and rushes, blood vessels, pant legs and cups and glasses that are tubes with bottoms.
Some of the things I do with children around patterns is to take them on pattern walks and talk with them about patterns when we’re building structures either inside with blocks and Legos or outside when we’re building fairy houses, forts and damns. For pattern walks, I simply describe a few patterns to focus on (e.g., tubes, sheets and branches) and we go out looking for them and any other patterns we see. My role is to keep reminding the kids to look for patterns and to support their sharing their findings. You’ll be surprised at what your kids will notice!