"Here is a sound, a clap. I can repeat it. I can make it again in the same way. Let's make a clap and repeat it three times in the same way.

I can stand up suddenly. I can stand up again in the same way. Let's all stand up suddenly! Now let's repeat the movement three times in the same way.

Look. I am drawing a shape on the paper. I can repeat it. Who can come and draw the shape again and repeat it three times on the paper?

Here are three different colours. First I am making a red circle, now a blue one and the last circle is green. They are all in a line. Can I repeat the three circles in the same way? Which colour shall I use first? Red. Now the blue and what colour comes next? Let's see if we can go on repeating the circles to make a pattern. You must tell me which colour comes next."

Children can go on to make their own simple repeating pattern of colours or shapes. They could use crayons or pens. But this is a good opportunity to make a printed pattern. Use three trays of coloured printing inks and place an object (for example a cotton reel) in each tray. Invite the children to print a sequence of the colours and repeat that to make a pattern on the paper.

Ask the children if they can see any patterns in the classroom Are there any shapes, colours, pictures or objects that are repeated a number of times? Is anybody wearing a pattern?

Children may be able to go on to draw some of the patterns they can see. Why not make a collection of patterns? For example, ask each child to see if they can find something at home that has a pattern. They might find fabric off cuts, wrapping paper or packaging that has a pattern. You could add images and objects that have natural patterns for example, scales of fish, feathers of a bird, crystal formations. Add the children's own patterns to make the display.

  • Adapted and expanded from pages 26 and 27 of 'Teaching Art at Key Stage 1', Nigel Meager, 1993, NSEAD. See the NSEAD web site for information about ordering this book.
  • Have somewhere handy to put the prints to dry.
  • Use the first few activities from this mini-project as a starting point for other introductory projects that may focus on pattern. For example look at the units: 'printing with polystyrene tiles', 'designing a pattern', 'collecting and recording natural patterns', 'a simple printed pattern'.
  • Repeating patterns Repeating patterns Repeating patterns Repeating patterns Repeating patterns Repeating patterns Repeating patterns Repeating patterns. Build this unit into more advanced projects. For example, look at the units 'letters fonts and patterns' and 'creature skin design boards'.
  • Have you thought of investigating all kinds of repeating such as sounds in a song, words in a poem, peas in a pod, twins, symmetry in design (architecture or print), cars in a car-park, heads in the class, bodies in uniforms, siblings in a family, number-games (chance and dice), you could compare and contrast those various occasions when you do or don't want something repeated? Then there are statements, announcements, which could lead to discussions about the familiar, the commonplace (leading to boredom?) and the predictable (we can guess something is likely to happen). All of these can be translated into art. An interesting discussion might arise from recognising that a symbol or sign for something, actually looks like the something, in very simple terms it has repeated its appearance.
  • You could invent games in which pupils have to guess the name of an artist by recognising their particular style. In other words, they repeat particular things. Try Vincent van Gogh for example.

Coloured drawing media and paper for children, an easel and paper for the teacher, three colours of water based printing inks, polythene to cover tables, trays and rollers to roll out ink, objects to print with.