Attributes in Algebra


Learning Objective: to create and continue a pattern using a single attribute.

Learning Objective: to describe an efficient algorithm to communicate a pattern.

As part of Room 11’s work on patterns and relationships, the students were tasked with organising random objects into patterns.

The students learned that it is not always obvious how to organise things into groups and patterns as there are many attributes, or traits, to choose from.

They first began with choosing a material, which could be anything from rods,  and unifix blocks, to number cards, some even used rocks from the garden.

Working together as a class, the students listed possible attributes of the materials including size, shape, number value or colour.

The class soon realised that lots of physical objects have more than one attribute that you could use to make a pattern.

Hope noticed that “the number cards could go up and down by the numbers, but could also be sorted by colours.”


Zoe decided that the rods could be made into shapes of specific sizes and that she could make a pattern from that.


Some students recognised even more creative and complex attributes in their materials.

Taylor remarked that the pattern she saw reminded her of a dessert pattern she saw in real life. “There’s strawberry, vanilla and chocolate in that order.”

Zoe used the rocks from the garden to make a sequential pattern from smallest to medium to big and repeating.


Evie experimented with using more than one attribute, as she found that she could combine the colour of counters, as well as size, and number of counters.


Keywords: Patterns, algorithms, inquiry, efficiency.

Curriculum Areas

  • Mathematics and Statistics

    • Level 3 - Connect members of sequential patterns with their ordinal position and use tables, graphs, and diagrams to find relationships between successive elements of number and spatial patterns