Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary


In this unit students explore and create patterns of two and three elements using the rhyme "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" as a focusing theme.

Achievement Objectives
NA1-6: Create and continue sequential patterns.
Specific Learning Outcomes
  • "Read" a repeating pattern and predict what may come next.
  • Create a repeating pattern with two elements.
  • Create a repeating pattern with three elements.
Description of Mathematics

This unit is about the simplest kinds of patterns that you can make – those with just two things. So this unit lays the foundation for much more complicated patterns to come. The skills that the student will develop here, such as creating a pattern, continuing a pattern, predicting what comes next, finding what object is missing, and describing a pattern, are all important skills that will be used many times. Indeed they are essentially what mathematics is all about.

Opportunities for Adaptation and Differentiation

The learning opportunities in this unit can be differentiated by providing or removing support to students and by varying the task requirements. As the sessions in this unit focus on simple 2-element patterns it is more likely that ways to extend students may be needed. Ways to extend students include:

  • introducing a third colour to the daisy pattern in session 1
  • adding a third flower to the pattern in session 3
  • increasing the size of the “cloche” in session 4 so that it covers a larger part of the pattern.

The context for this unit can be adapted to suit the interests and experiences of your students. For example:

  • using native birds or animals instead of flowers and vegetables. For example, tūī, pīwakwaka (fantail), tuatara
  • using recreational or sporting objects. For example, scooters and bicycles, netballs and rugby balls.
  • the learning in this unit could be linked to the context of creating a school or community garden, or the context of looking at a pre-existing garden (e.g. the Botanical gardens, the garden at a marae).

Te reo Māori vocabulary terms such as tauira (pattern), as well as counting from tahi ki tekau (one to 10) could be introduced in this unit and used throughout other mathematical learning. Other te reo Maori that could be useful in this unit are colours (such as kōwhai and ma), puaka (flower), and huawhenua (vegetables).

Required Resource Materials
  • Nursery rhyme card "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary" (This is available as part of the Ready to Read series, and is easily found online)
  • Coloured paper petals to construct flowers
  • Magnetic backed paper flowers and magnetic board
  • Vegetable cut outs
  • Flower game cards

Session 1

This session explores simple 2-element patterns around the theme of a daisy.

  1. Read and/or listen to the nursery rhyme "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary". Consider using this poem in your literacy teaching to enhance its relevance.
  2. Talk about what might be in Mary’s garden. Name some flowers and talk about them. If possible show the students a daisy – note the petals.
  3. Using the cut petals and a centre circle, the teacher partially constructs a "daisy" with a regular 2-element pattern using coloured petals. The pattern could be yellow, white, yellow, white, …
  4. Can you read my pattern?
    What will the next petal be?
    How do you know?
  5. Students explore and create their own "daisies".
  6. Students share and describe their daisy pattern with the class.

Session 2

Using the same nursery rhyme theme again, explore patterns with flowers.

  1. Reread the nursery rhyme.
  2. Mary likes to keep her garden neat and tidy. She plants flowers in patterns.
    Model this idea using magnetic backed coloured flowers on a magnetic board.
  3. Can anyone continue my pattern?
  4. Select a student to complete the pattern of coloured flowers.
  5. Invite two or three students to create a flower pattern in front of the class using the magnetic flowers.
  6. What is the pattern here?
    Can we read this pattern?
    What will come next?
    How do you know?
  7. Students construct their own garden flower patterns using the flower cut outs. Move around the students and discuss what they are doing.
    Tell me your pattern.
    What will come next?
    How do you know?"

Session 3

Simple patterns are again explored but this time using a card game.

Use the copymaster to make a set of cards. Now create baseboards with ten squares. Attach two flower cards to the first two squares to form the beginning of a pattern:

Picture of a purple flower card.Picture of a red flower card.        
  1. Students work in pairs. They each select a baseboard that has the outline of a pattern.
  2. The students take it in turns to take a card from the pile. If it is part of their pattern they place it in the correct place on the baseboard. If not needed the card is put at the bottom of the pile of cards.
  3. Repeat with the same baseboard and with different baseboards.
  4. Move around the students and discuss what they are doing.
    Tell me your pattern.
    What will come next?
    How do you know?

Session 4

Instead of using flowers we now use vegetables to make 2-element and even 3-element patterns.

  1. Tell the following story:
    Mary likes to grow vegetables. In her garden she grows carrots, tomatoes, pumpkins and kūmara. She grows her vegetables in patterns.
  2. Model a 2-element vegetable pattern for the class, for example, carrot, carrot, tomato, carrot, carrot, tomato...
  3. The class reads and predicts the pattern.
  4. Explain how gardeners sometimes use cloches (mini glasshouses) to protect plants as they are growing. 
    Mary often uses these in her vegetable garden.
  5. The teacher covers part of her pattern with a "cloche".
  6. Can you tell me what is hidden inside the cloche?
    How do you know?"
  7. Students construct vegetable gardens and cover part of their "garden" with a cloche. Working with a partner they try to predict which vegetables are hidden.
  8. More able students can move to constructing a vegetable garden using 3 different vegetables.

Session 5

The students guess the missing members of a vegetable pattern where more than 1 vegetable has been "eaten".

  1. Make a vegetable pattern like the ones in the last session. But this time some vegetables are missing from the row. Tell the students that rabbits have got into Mary’s garden and eaten some of the vegetables. Start with just one eaten vegetable and gradually increase the number eaten to 3.
  2. The students have to decide which vegetables have been eaten and place these in the correct places.
  3. Are the vegetables in the right place? How do you know?
  4. In pairs the students play the same game with their partner. They take turns forming the pattern and removing some of the vegetables.

Printed from at 1:39pm on the 20th April 2024