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Identifying Time Patterns

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Patterns can be found in our clothes, in nature, and even in our clocks. Time patterns are important to understanding the world around us. In this lesson, you will learn about time patterns and how to identify them.

What is a Time Pattern?

Have you ever gone trick-or-treating and come back with a monster load of sugary goodness? Let's pretend you have a huge candy stash, and your parents say that you can eat one piece of candy every two hours after your lunch at 12:00. Do you know what times you will be eating your delicious pieces of sweetness?

A great way to figure these times is to use a time pattern. Time patterns are used to show a group of more than two times that are listed in order according to a certain rule. For instance, if your parents let you eat a piece of chocolate every two hours, you would create the following time pattern:


Candy time pattern
candy pattern


The pattern begins at your lunch time of 12:00. Then, 2 hours are added to the time, making it 2:00. Next, another 2 hours are added to that time, making it 4:00, and so on. The rule for this time pattern is +2 hours because you add 2 hours to the previous time to figure out the next time you are allowed to eat chocolate.

Time patterns can occur when time is added or subtracted. Instead of adding 2 hours, a time pattern could also be -2 hours, where 2 hours are subtracted from each time.

Time patterns can also occur using different increments, or the specific amount by which something is increased or decreased. For example, a time pattern could add an increment of 1 hour and 35 minutes to each time, or subtract an increment of 45 minutes from each time.

Can You Identify the Pattern?

Have you ever traveled from one coast of America to the other? If so, you've flown through different time zones. Look at the image of clocks from the different time zones a person would cross while flying from New York to Los Angeles. Can you identify the time pattern?


Time zone time pattern
time zones


The time in New York is 4:00 p.m., while in Little Rock it is 3:00. In Denver, the time is 2:00, followed by 1:00 in Los Angeles. If you look at the time difference between each time, it is decreased by 1 hour. The time pattern for these clocks is -1 hour because the time for each time zone is 1 hour behind the previous time zone. If you traveled to the next time zone, you would subtract another hour to make it 12:00.

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