Patterns are an important part of learning mathematics for young children. By providing a variety of activities for teaching patterns to preschoolers, you can help them develop the skills they need for future success in math. That’s why we’ve created these positions and patterns lesson plans for preschoolers… so we could further explore developing patterns with hands-on and exciting activities.
Our lesson plans also include a detailed scope and sequence for the whole positions and patterns unit, ensuring that teaching patterns and identifying positional words are the major focus for the whole unit.
Positions and Patterns Activities for Preschoolers
Creating a preschool math curriculum was a heavy task! I knew when I began planning lessons, activities, and centers that I needed to make sure that the math skills of every single child were accounted for and that there were plenty of opportunities for differentiation.
I also knew it needed to spiral and review key concepts multiple times throughout the year, gradually increasing in difficulty. This approach is ideal because it covers math topics throughout the entire year. This allows children more time for mastery and an opportunity to increase the rigor of each lesson.
The Daily Lessons in Preschool Math curriculum was born out of that need and today we are focusing on the fifth unit in the series, Daily Lessons in Positions and Patterning.
Did you know that preschoolers are capable of learning algebra? In fact, some may even argue that preschoolers learn algebraic skills before number sense skills. In preschool, algebraic skills are related to spatial relationships and patterns. This includes (to name a few):
- recognizing and producing patterns
- understanding positions and locations
- discriminating between similarities and differences
- sorting into groups
Plus, patterns are the root of mathematics. When young children see that math is composed of patterns and repetition, they begin to understand how our number system works as well.
These preschool patterning lesson plans are perfect for helping you plan engaging and developmentally appropriate lessons and activities for your students without loads of prep and time.
FAQ About Teaching Patterning to Preschoolers
Patterns can be anything that repeats in a logical way. For example, vertical stripes on someone’s sweater create a pattern. Patterns can be made up of anything, including numbers, images or shapes, as long as they follow a the ultimate patterning rule: that it is repetitive!
Learn all about patterning in this post: The Ultimate Guide to Teaching Positions and Patterns.
Patterns range in complexity, so in preschool and kindergarten, you’ll find the most success if you start with simple patterns and work your way up to longer, more complex patterns. Here is a good order to go by:
These patterns are all practiced in my Daily Lessons in Positions and Patterns Math Unit.
There are many different levels to teaching and learning pattern skills, here’s the developmental sequence for teaching patterning skills to your Preschool or Pre-K students.
~ Stage 1: Recognize a pattern
~ Stage 2: Describe a pattern
~ Stage 3: Copy a pattern
~ Stage 4: Extend a pattern
~ Stage 5: Create a pattern
I would so add that a sixth stage could be created: Filling in a missing pattern pieces.
Positions and Patterns Hands-On Supplies
This curriculum is designed to be low-prep and utilize the same supplies during each math unit. Buy it once, and use them over and over again for different learning purposes! Take a look at some of the resources we use for each unit and click each picture for more details. These items are staples for any early childhood math curriculum.
All About Positions and Patterns Preschool Lesson Plans
These positions and patterns lesson plans for preschoolers are designed for up to a five-day-week program, but activities within a week can be removed and skipped for two or three-day-week programs. There are lots of pre-k pattern activities that help kids copy, reproduce, extend, and create their own patterns in various ways including with manipulatives, gross motor movement, and even with sound!
Discovery Activities/Math Photo Cards
The discovery activities are so much fun! Each week contains a real photograph or illustration for the children to interact with. The photo relates to the concept and encourages oral language and math vocabulary development. Plus, the vibrant photos expose children to different places, animals, and cultures. It’s easy to see that math really is everywhere in our daily lives!
The math photo card example below shows a colorful room with rainbow balls in different locations and positions. This engaging photo invites young learners to use positional words to determine an object’s location and make connections to the world around us. Each photo card includes mathematical points, teaching tips, and engaging questions to encourage your children to think about each photo through a mathematical lens.
The daily dip is a review activity to reinforce previously taught skills. You will notice valuable teaching tips throughout the review lessons. These tips offer insight to help execute specific strategies in
the lessons. This section is optional depending on time and student needs but is certainly a valuable component of each day.
The photo below shows examples of the first week of our positions and patterns unit. Notice the activities include use of position words to describe the location of a stuffed animal, counting and modeling zero, and applying counting knowledge to five and ten frames, which was previously taught in previous units to ensure exposure and practice to essential math skills all year long.
Teach and Engage
You’ll love the teach and engage section because it’s a brand new daily lesson for your students packed with new learning. This component of the curriculum includes lots of modeling and student interaction. Each lesson includes a bonus section that offers tips on how to make the lesson more challenging and provides extensions for children who are ready for more difficulty.
Positions and Patterns Centers for Preschoolers
In these positions and pattern activities for preschoolers, we have included lots of hands-on activities and games that invite kids to develop and interact with patterns in numerous ways. Many of the games and centers use engaging manipulatives such as snap cubes, colored counters, counting bears, or even playdough. Independent centers should always be supervised in preschool and kindergarten.
Positional Words Clip Cards
This simple position game is simple to prep and easy to play. Print out the position cards and grab some clothespins. Then ask the child to identify the bird’s position (over, under, between, next to, etc.) and invite them to clip the corresponding square.
Positional Words Task Cards
A fun counting positional center that reinforces how we use positions in daily life. Using a small block and a small box for a hands-on positioning activity, students will replicate the image on the card and position the block appropriately.
Positional Words Cover All
This position center is great for use with foam cube dice where you can insert the images and roll the dice. This makes positioning the counters on top, behind, under, etc… lots of fun! Even if you don’t have a pocket dice, this center is lots of fun and can be used with endless other manipulatives to practice positional words.
Pattern Matching, Extending Patterns, Filling in Patterns
Learning about patterns is lots of fun! This patterning center uses rainbow counters to introduce simple patterns, build patterns, and develop an understanding of how patterns work. Plus, these pattern cards are simple to print and add to the center with manipulatives. This center can also be used with counting bears or snap cubes too!
Pattern 1:1 Correspondence
Using snap cubes and counting bears, this center reinforces one-to-one correspondence while also developing patterning skills. Children can also continue to extend the pattern after the card has ended to prove mastery.
Building Playdough Patterns
Preschoolers adore using playdough which makes this center a big hit in the classroom. Using various colors of playdough, children copy the colored circles to create the pattern. To extend this activity, we have included black circles so that the child can create their own pattern with the colors shown. This center builds fine motor and teaches kids various pattern types.
Yoga Kids Patterns
An engaging math game always makes for excited preschoolers! This pattern center uses gross motor skills to teach that patterns are everywhere. This center is best done together as a class first then moved into a center. Encourage children to follow the pattern of movements and copy the yoga with their bodies. To extend, you can invite children to create their own yoga or gross motor patterns.
We have included various pattern types in our math centers including musical sound patterns. These sound pattern cards encourage children to copy the music movements to create a musical pattern. Preschoolers absolutely love this activity and love to get creative and make their own. What happens when they add a third child to their sound pattern?
Math to Literacy Connections
We have also included eight optional literacy activities that infuse math picture books. Children learn best through colorful illustrations and storytelling. These eight picture books infuse pattern teaching, as well as, build upon other math skills (shapes, colors, patterns) as well. Click the book covers to read more about each book.
Grab these fantastic books about positions and patterns here!
Get Your Positions and Patterns Lesson Plans for Preschoolers Here
The daily lessons in positions and patterns are complete and ready to use! These patterning preschool lesson plans include daily lessons, centers, activities, and even literacy connections. This patterning math unit is all you’ll need to teach pattern development, position words, and develop foundational math skills to your preschoolers.
Looking for a Preschool Math Curriculum for the Whole Year?
We’ve got you covered! From sorting to graphing, counting to shapes, this preschool math curriculum is loaded with engaging activities, literacy connections, and daily photo cards to spark joy in math.
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I am an educator, book enthusiast, and a stay at home momma to two precious and long-awaited littles. My degree is in Early Childhood Education and Curriculum and Instruction and I have spent the last 15 years working with young children. I feel very fortunate to have this time to watch my babies grow and I can’t wait to share my passion for learning and reading with you!