Welcome to another Wacky Workshops project – fun activities for playing with patterns in nature.
We are surrounded by beautiful patterns everywhere we look. Some are manmade, but nature provides us with a feast of patterns, from symmetries, spirals, meanders and spots and stripes to tessellations and fractals.
Helping children spot and recognise these patterns not only gives them an extra appreciation for nature’s creations but can also help them understand maths.
This week’s projects offer some fun activities to help children spot and understand patterns in nature.
Children are natural explorers and relish in discovering new things. In my post, How to Spot Nature’s Hidden Treasures, I outlined the importance of closely observing all that nature has to offer.
By focusing on different aspects of nature, we can heighten children’s curiosity and interest in the natural world – something needed more than ever as technology tempts so much if their time.
We can also enhance their creative abilities by offering ways they can simulate the patterns in nature to make beautiful works of art.
The first step is to take them for a walk and point out the different kinds of natural patterns surrounding us.
Explain the various forms of patterns.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF PATTERNS IN NATURE
Symmetry – when things are made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis – as seen on many plants and flowers.
This can be further broken down into its various forms, such as radial (like a water splash), rotational (like a pinecone) and bilateral, where one side mirrors the others (like the stripes on a tiger’s face).
Spirals – A spiral is a curve in the plane or in the space, which runs around a centre in a special way
Meanders – a snaking pattern seen in rivers and streams when they meander back and forth across its down-valley axis.
Waves – such as the pattern made by ocean waves.
Foams – the pattern made by a mass of bubbles.
Cracks – the patterns made in rock faces and on tree bark.
Stripes and spots – as seen on animals such as zebras and leopards.
Tessellations – repeating tiles over a flat surface, such as honeycomb.
Fractals – never-ending patterns that are self-similar across different scales. If you divide a fractal pattern into parts you get a nearly identical reduced sized copy of the whole, such as seashells, leaves, ferns.
Fibonacci – The Fibonacci sequence is a set of numbers that starts with a one or a zero, followed by a one, and proceeds based on the rule that each number (called a Fibonacci number) is equal to the sum of the preceding two numbers – 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and so on.
It is known as the Golden Ratio and can be seen in the patterns made by flower petals (lilies have three petals, buttercups have five, daisies have 34), in pinecones, and in the way tree branches form or split.
Take pictures of various natures finds and see if the child can guess which kind of pattern it is.
PLAYING WITH PATTERNS IN NATURE PROJECTS
Have your child collect a variety of leaves, bark rocks, feathers – whatever they like as long as it’s relatively flat.
Place the ‘finds’ on a flat surface, cover them with paper and have the child rub a crayon (paper removed) across the object to reveal the pattern.
Cut a piece of citrus – orange, lemon, lime in half and dip into paint. Stamp the fruit onto a sheet of paper to reveal the pattern inside.
Have the child create their own pattern within a large circle on a piece of paper.
MAKE A STRIPE PATTERN
MAKE A PAPER SNOWFLAKE
Fold a square piece of paper diagonally in half.
Next, fold this triangle in half to form a smaller triangle.
Fold this triangle into thirds.
Turn it over and cut off the excess paper at the top of the triangle (as per picture).
Cut random shapes from the edges of your triangle.
Unfold and admire the pattern you have made.
MAKE A SUN PRINT
Sun Sensitive paper is coated with light-sensitive chemicals which react to light waves when exposed to light. You can buy sun print kits at most craft and hobby stores.
Happy crafting and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.