Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#3245. Patterns in Nature

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Mon Oct 11 11:23:08 PDT 2004 by Emily Guerrieri (
University of PIttsburgh at Johnstown, Johnstown, PA
Materials Required: PowerPoint slides of patterns in nature; four packs of crayons or markers; white paper; construction

Subject: Science/ Patterns in Nature
Academic Standards: Academic Standards for Science and Technology/ Unifying Themes 3.1.4/ C. Illustrate patterns that occur and reoccur in nature.-Identify Observable Patterns (e.g., growth patterns in plants, crystal shapes in minerals, structural patterns in bird feathers.)

Objectives: ~ Students will be able to name and describe several places in nature where patterns occur.
~ Students will be able to depict a pattern in nature by creating an illustration.
Subject Integration: Art, reading.
Materials: PowerPoint slides of patterns in nature; four packs of crayons or markers; white paper; construction paper; stapler; Echoes for the Eye by Barbara Juster Esbensen; Insect by Laurence Mound; Children's Guide to Birds by Jinny Johnson; Fish by Steve Parker; The Book of Sea Shells by Michael H. Bevans; worksheet on seasons as a pattern.
Instructional Procedures:
Anticipatory Set: Show PowerPoint slides of examples of patterns in nature including plants, animals, rocks, and water forms displaying patterns. Explain and conduct a short discussion slide by slide.
Developmental Activities: ~ Distribute one of four nature-oriented books to each table (insects, fish, seashells, birds). As a group, each table will be given four minutes to look through their books together and find two examples of patterns in nature which they will share with the class.
~ Ask for volunteers to pass out white paper, construction paper, and crayons. Students will have ten minutes to illustrate a pattern occurring in nature. They will then cut a small section out of the construction paper to create a "peek-hole". The construction paper can be used to cover their drawing and expose only a part of the pattern whereas others can guess what the whole picture is underneath, based on the section of the pattern exposed.

Closure: I will read from the book Echoes for the Eye by Barbara Juster Esbensen. The number of poems that will be read from the book will depend on the amount of time we have left. The poems describe such patterns as spirals, circles, branches, and polygons.

Extension: Worksheet given as homework "Seasons Occur in a Pattern". The worksheet emphasizes the pattern in which seasons occur year to year, and also asks students to identify patterns occurring in items within the seasons.

Assessment: ~ I would staple and collect the "Peek-a-boo" patterns activities to be hung on a bulletin board.
~I would also collect and grade the worksheet that was given for homework.

Special Needs Adaptation: ~ A student that is hearing impaired will benefit from the visual pattern depictions of the PowerPoint slides, and the illustrations in the books.
~I could print out a copy of the poems and a summary of the discussion from the slides for a hearing impaired child.

Technology Integration
(One computer) This site will be viewed on the big screen as the instructor navigates through virtual tours of a bee hive and its symmetrical construction, the water cycle, and rainbows. There are also plenty of interactive links on this page that lead to the examination of patterns in nature. It can be a class decision as to which links to pick and chose from the site because it may not be possible to get through them all in a class period.
(Six computers) Students will work as a team to complete a Webquest called Cloud Webquest which can be found at This particular quest requires students to research and organize information on the three major types of clouds (the research links are detailed throughout the webquest process instructions and in the resources section). After the initial research, students will collaborate to put the information into a power point presentation (minimum ten slides) and also a short summary of their research findings (word processed, one page minimum).
(Individual Computers) Students will construct a picture of a pattern occurring in nature by using the drawing toolbar located in Microsoft Word. Tools such as copying/ pasting, 3-D imaging, and resizing will be useful tools in quickly and accurately creating a repeating pattern. Students will not draw the entire object or area the pattern covers. The patterns the students create will be printed and hung on a bulletin board with the origin of the pattern written underneath the picture (you flip up the pattern picture to reveal the answer.)