A few days ago, during learning time for my preschooler, we spent the day working on understanding what a pattern was, using balloons. And, as a way to reinforce the pattern concept, the next day, we completed a patterns activity sheet together.
This is a fun and simple activity that really helps younger children understand the concept that patterns are repeating groups of items. As an added bonus, this activity helps develop fine motor skills and color recognition.
Pattern recognition is a mathematical skill that helps our brains create order out of the stimuli we receive. We are wired to seek out patterns. Patterns play a large role in problem solving skills and logical thinking. Our brains find patterns calming and much of our understanding of beauty comes from an understanding of patterns. When young children are able to create patterns on their own, they are able to create something their brain recognizes as beauty. They also have a feeling of accomplishment.
After printing out the free Patterns Worksheet, gather a bowl full of multi colored cereal and a bottle of glue. We used Trix because of the uniform shape and various colors – and my preschooler likes those flavors. We were doing this activity with other younger children, too, so I didn’t want to introduce another concept, like matching shapes.
However, if doing this activity with older children, adding shapes into the pattern creation mix would enhance the level of difficulty to more of a Kindergarten or first grade level. And if I were to do this activity for my Kindergartner I would use Lucky Charms as the cereal.
Spread a line of glue on the pattern line. (The child could spread the glue too, depending on how well the child can control a glue bottle.) I would recommend only letting the child glue one line at a time. It takes a little time for little fingers to pick out the cereal and place it on the pattern line. The children thought it was great fun to be able to “play” with their food during snack time, and they followed the rule about not eating any cereal that had glue on it.
After reviewing how patterns work (Patterns are groups of things that repeat in a set order.) had the child fill in the pattern rows. It is helpful to talk about using an A color, a B color, etc. I asked questions like:
What color comes next in your pattern?”
“What color is your A color?”
“What color is your B color?”
“Can you fill in all the A color places on this line?
We worked on this worksheet for about 30 minutes, building patterns out of cereals and gluing them down. It really seemed to help my preschooler understand why I was calling the pattern AB or ABC. My preschooler liked the idea of using cereal to create patterns with, especially since I let her eat all the cereal that wasn’t glued down. She also was really proud of the patterns she made, and declared it “fridge worthy”.