Red, orange, red, orange…what comes next?
Learn how to teach patterning with these simple and fun pattern activities.
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The Importance of Teaching Patterning
Patterning is important for more than just arts and crafts.
It is a beginning critical thinking skill.
To figure out a pattern, a child needs to:
- Identify the different types/colors/sizes of objects
- Figure out the sequence
- Make a logical deduction about what comes next
These skills translate to math, science, reading…you name it!
Once you teach patterning, a child can recognize patterns in everyday life (it’s natural reinforcement!).
How to Explain Patterns to Kids
To teach patterning to kids, you need to know how to explain patterns.
Manipulatives can help you here.
Teddy bear counters.
Not only do they come in a rainbow of colors, but you can also play-act with them.
This is important for teaching patterning (and, coincidentally, for teaching word problems and real-life math as well).
Kids understand the concept of taking turns.
Chances are, you have been teaching that for a while now!
Use that understanding to introduce patterning.
Assemble two piles of teddy bears in two colors (for example, a pile of red bears and a pile of yellow bears).
Explain that both the yellow bear family and the red bear family want cookies.
You only have a certain amount, so you ask them to line up so you can give a cookie to a red bear and then a cookie to a yellow bear.
Line up the teddy bears red, yellow, red, yellow.
Then ask the child to take over lining them up.
Ask questions like, “Who comes after the yellow bear?” and “Who’s next?”
The key to helping children recognize patterns is to have them vocalize the design.
“Red bear, yellow bear, red bear, yellow bear, etc.” The sequence is more likely to click when they see and say it.
Examples of Patterns
You can use many types of objects to create patterns.
You can create patterns with objects of various colors, various shapes, or various sizes.
Some examples of pattern objects can be:
- glass gems
- popsicle sticks
- math manipulatives
- M&Ms, Skittles, or Fruit Loops
- fruit (like grapes and blueberries)
- various paper or plastic geometric shapes
You can make many examples of patterns with your pattern objects.
Here are some common examples of patterns.
We’ll use the letters A, B, and C, but you can interpret these as red, yellow, and blue, for example.
These examples of patterns start easy and become more challenging as you move down the list.
Pattern Activities Kids Will Love
You can talk about patterning, but the concept won’t stick unless you incorporate some pattern activities. Here are some easy and fun pattern activities to try.
Valentine’s Day Patterning
What is sweeter than creating patterns with hearts?
These Valentine’s Day Pattern Task Cards are available in both digital and print versions.
If you opt for the digital version, you can use them as BOOM cards with the BOOM Learning app.
The child selects the next heart in the pattern, and you get immediate feedback on his or her progress.
It’s an interactive way to practice patterning.
Beaded Snowflake Craft
Making a beaded snowflake craft is the perfect S.T.E.A.M. activity (marrying art and math).
Not only are the supplies super basic (just scissors, pipe cleaners, and pony beads), but the patterning practice is limitless.
You can create a multitude of patterns with the snowflakes, each as unique as the ones in real life.
Colored paper chain links aren’t just for decorating Christmas trees; they are a chance to practice patterning!
All you need to create paper link chains are strips of colored construction paper and tape/glue.
Paper chains are one of the most simple and inexpensive patterning activities.
Popsicle Stick Creations
Colored craft sticks are a fabulous invention.
You can cut out strips of contact paper and arrange the popsicle sticks on top in colorful patterns.
You can also use the notched popsicle sticks to create towers in various color patterns.
Fruit Loop Bracelets
This activity has it all: patterning practice, wearable art, and crunchy cereal.
What’s not to love?
String Fruit Loops on pipe cleaners to create patterned bracelets.
Lego blocks are a classic toy for a reason.
They have plenty of educational applications, and patterning is just one of them.
Create towers of Lego blocks in colorful patterns.
You could create a whole cityscape with patterned skyscrapers!
Add toy cars and Lego Minifigures, and you are ready to go!
Ways to Teach Patterning to Kids
Pattern activities bring a lesson on patterning to life.
They allow children to apply what they have learned in a fun, hands-on way, creating various examples of patterns.
Try some simple and fun pattern activities to teach and enchant the children in your life.