Patterns are all around us. Simple rhythms in music, for example, or the patterning in manicured landscaping, or tiling on the floor. More complex patterns can be found in a child’s kaleidoscope or the ornate organization of decorative bricks on a building, or the intricate and delicate threading of a spider’s web. Patterns can be found everywhere.
Pattern recognition is the ability to identify numerical or spacial repetitions. This skill is important to your child’s mathematical development because it is in patterning that some basic algebraic concepts are learned, such as sequencing, spatial awareness, and analytical thinking.
Here is a very simple activity to practice patterning.
Color pattern cards.
Supplies include dot stickers and index cards, as well as some sort of matching color counters, like pom poms.
Using the dot stickers create various patterns on the index cards, fitting in one row of about five stickers (for 5 x 7 card). I used white stickers and colored them with markers instead of spending the extra money on colored dot stickers.
Laminate or use clear contact paper to make the cards more durable.
Begin by asking your child to read the pattern by naming the colors in the appropriate order, from left to right. I specify how to read the pattern because some children begin by naming their favorite colors first, or by naming the most familiar colors first, but not reading the actual pattern. It it important to show your child that patterns are read in a specific way.
Once your child has read the pattern, ask him to find counters that match the pattern. Then, cover the colored dots with the coordinating counters.
Once your child is familiar with the process, encourage him to extend the pattern beyond the card. Depending on your child’s level, this may be a difficult task, and as a parent-teacher you may have to model the extension a few times. I also found it helpful to repeat the pattern several times throughout the duration of the activity. What seemed especially helpful was using a rhythm or different tone inflections in my voice to help to distract the color pattern visually and editorially. For a basic AB pattern, I would read A normally, and B would be read high.
Once the pattern has been extended, teach your child how to check his working by reading the pattern again, including the extension. Above William was able to find that he had placed two reds next to each other, so he eliminated one, making the pattern correct.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.