Matchstick Sequencing

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Aims and objectives
The aim of this activity is to allow pupils to create their own matchstick shapes, patterns and sequences then write about them in mathematical terms. The patterns and sequences can be created by either number progressions or geometric shapes.

Previous knowledge
As this is an ‘exploratory’ activity students can approach it at whatever level they feel comfortable with. The supporting worksheets provide teacher guidance on a range of possible tasks for students at all levels of ability.

In the classroom
The activity is based on a series of computer generated questions where students are asked to either complete or extend a sequence of geometric patterns then find the rule to describe the sequence. Each question is accompanied by a worksheet to support the activity.

Students can also use this activity to create their own series of patterns or sequences and work out the relationship between each pattern/sequence. They can also use the endless pile of matchsticks to create their own shapes e.g. they could try making a hexagon and then adding another hexagon to it. When they have made their shape they can print the worksheet and copy the pattern onto it.

The activity may be linked to a problem that you have set. For example, give the pupils two members of a series on the whiteboard then ask them to create the third and fourth members on the screen. They then have to explain the rule (in words). Alternatively the teacher can state a relationship and then ask the pupils to create the pattern using the matchsticks.

Although students are likely to be working independently or in small groups using this activity, if an interactive whiteboard is available then it becomes a really effective way for a teacher to demonstrate or model the activities. This work is linked to the following learning outcomes:
· Generate terms of a sequence given a rule.
· Generate sequences from practical contexts and describe them in words.
· Describe the general term of a sequence in words

Support materials description: Resources type:

There are 7 printable worksheets, each consisting of a question with a different sequence.

The matchstick_functions.pdf contains a useful set of ‘flash cards’ with key mathematical vocabulary which teachers can use with the students for assessment or reinforcement activities.









Curriculum references
Mathematics – KS3:
Ma2 1i, j; 6a-c
Ma3 1c, f, j

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