Nature Challenge: Patterns in nature

Take part in this Nature Challenge to look for different patterns in nature.

You can make a Nature Notebook and use it to complete the mini-challenges, or just use a regular piece of paper or notebook.

Patterns in nature

Patterns are everywhere in nature. A pattern is a design that is repeated over and over again. Look closely at plants, flowers and animals. Can you see any shapes that are repeated again and again?

Patterns are constantly being created by simple physical laws. There are patterns in the sand dunes created by blowing winds. There is a pattern in the swirl of a whirlpool and in the formation of an ice crystal.

Mini-challenge: Create your own pattern

Use one of the other pages in your notebook to draw your own pattern. Remember to look for inspiration from nature:

  • The spots on a ladybird
  • The branches of a tree
  • The petals on a flower
  • The stripes on a caterpillar

Mirror mirror

Symmetry is everywhere in nature.Reflective symmetry is where one half of an object or image looks exactly like the other half (a mirror image) – for example a leaf.

Rotational symmetry means an object or image looks the same after being partly rotated (turned) around its centre. Think of the petals on a daisy.

Lots of artists have used nature as inspiration for their art. But some artists have used nature as their art! It is called Land Art, because you do not use paint, crayons, glue or paper. You create a picture or a pattern from the things you find outdoors.

Mini-challenge: Create your own land art

Go outside and collect some natural art resources, like rocks, leaves, flowers and sticks. Try using rotational and reflective symmetry to create a natural artwork.

Remember to only pick flowers and leaves that are on the ground. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when collecting things in your local parks. Always remember to wash your hands afterwards.

Nature’s pottery

A gourd is the hollowed fruit of different plants in the Cucurbitaceae plant family. These include pumpkin, squash, calabash and cucumber.

Once gourds are hollowed out and dried they can be made into lots of different things; water containers, food bowls, spoons and musical instruments.

People all around the world still use gourds, as they are easy to grow and you can decorate them to create beautiful things to use in your home. That’s why they are known as ‘nature’s pottery’.
People have also used gourds to create printing stamps, which they use to print patterns onto fabric.

Mini-challenge: Printing stamp

Try making your own printing stamps from fruit and vegetables. Then use your stamps to create repeating patterns on paper.

Remember to check with your grown-ups that it’s ok to use the food and ask them to help you.

If you do not have any paints to use with your stamps, you could have a go at creating your own paints from flower, water, salt and some food colouring

Go on a pattern scavenger hunt

Go for a walk to your local park and see how many different natural patterns you can spot:

  • A snail shell
  • A flower with petals
  • Tree bark
  • A flying insect with stripes
  • A butterfly with spots
  • A plant that grows in a spiral
  • A spider’s web

Mini-challenge: Create a mystery pattern game

Take some close-up pictures of natural patterns when you go out for a walk on a nice day. When you get home, download your photos and using your computer, create a card for each pattern. Print off each card, and then cut them up into smaller cards. On a rainy day, you can play ‘guess the pattern’ with your family and friends.