Ask children to draw examples of their favourite patterns. They could select three patterns and draw them in their sketchbooks. As a follow up, or as an alternative, children could work on larger sheets of paper and make a record of their patterns using felt pens and markers. Some of the patterns may be single coloured. As they draw, children could choose their own colours for these patterns.

Prepare some paper with squares or rectangular boxes predrawn. You could have one box per sheet or several. You could vary the size and format of each box or they could be identical. The boxes could be drawn into sketchbooks. Children could draw their own boxes using a rectangular or square template to draw around. The number of boxes that each child is given will depend on their age and experience.

"Out of all the patterns you have seen which is your favourite. To make a start choose part of that pattern, a shape for example, or perhaps a line. Use that shape or line as a starting point of a pattern of your own. Try out some ideas in rough first. Then you can draw your pattern idea in the box."

Ask the children to design a different pattern for each box. You should remind them that a pattern must involve repeats. Colours, shapes, lines, motifs and pictures can repeat. Encourage the children to look back at their pattern collection and their drawings for ideas. They could use coloured felt pens or crayons. You may suggest that children draw a number of pattern ideas quickly before deciding on the one that they will make in a complete and careful way. Children could work collaboratively on a pattern design using large sheets of paper and marker pens.

Have an exhibition of the children's patterns and add them to the collection for an impressive looking display.

The pattern designs can be developed in many different ways. For example, prints, fabric work, architectural features, ceramic decoration, interior decoration, fashion designs and much else. Search for more ideas about projects that involve pattern.

  • Adapted and expanded from page 31 of 'Teaching Art at Key Stage 1', Nigel Meager, 1993, NSEAD. and from pages 31-33 of 'Teaching Art at Key Stage 2', Nigel Meager, 1995 NSEAD.
  • When the children are drawing the patterns from the pattern collection they may find it helpful to use a viewfinder. This is a rectangular window cut from the centre of a piece of card. You could make a few that have different sized windows. The children place the window of the viewfinder over a part of the pattern. They only need to draw what can be seen through the window. This helps them to focus and not to become too daunted by a large patterned area.
  • The photocopier can be a useful tool. Children can photocopy images and motifs they like and repeat these a number of times. These can be cut out and collaged to the pattern design. The paper pieces can also be quickly rearranged in different ways as the children explore different design ideas.
  • Have you thought of playing around with the way-round(ness) of the work? For example it could be this or that way up, sideways, back-to-front, inside out and so on.
  • Patterns needn't be regular (although perhaps they usually are). You could upset patterns by interrupting them or overlaying them or complicating them. The computer can deal with pattern particularly well by playing with it in space, flipping, revolving, inverting, reversing, repeating, reducing, enlarging and so on. Many units link with the concept of pattern. For example try 'lines and stripes', 'creature skin design boards' and 'coloured inks, metallic pens, line and Islam'.

A collection of patterns, images of patterns from different cultures, washable felt pens, markers, wax crayons, other drawing media, individual size sheets of paper and large sheets for collaborative work, sketchbooks.