At the preschool level children explore patterns with objects, colors, shapes, and sounds. They learn to see, hear and even create patterns. Exploring with math pattern activities gives them the skills they will need later when they are working with patterns in numbers.
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Math Pattern Activities for Preschoolers
1. Look For Patterns
Find patterns around the house and when you’re out and about :
- on clothes: stripes on a shirt
- on the table: fork, spoon, fork, spoon
- on a fence: big board, little, board
- on their bedsheet
- on the displays at Target
- on walls and ceilings
2. Listen For Patterns
- Tap a simple pattern on the table and have your child repeat it.
- Make sound patterns for your child to repeat: bop- bop- boom, bop- bop- boom. Or with words: cow-cow-pig-cow, cow-cow-pig-cow.
- Clap out patterns
- Use pots and pan and ‘drum’ patterns with a wooden spoon.
3. Read Stories That Have Text Patterns
Preschoolers love joining in with predictable text. Repeated text patterns make this easy to do. Here are a few books preschoolers love:
- Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoe by Eric Litwin
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr
- Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr
- Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
- The 3 Little Pigs (any version with traditional text)
- Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
Here are a few preschool books that teach the concept of patterns:
- Beep, Beep, Vroom, Vroom by Stuart J Murphy
- National Geographic Kids Look and Learn: Patterns! by National Geographic Kids
- Colors and Patterns by Susan Schuette
4. Continue Patterns
- Start with the same kind of items following an A-B-A-B-A-B pattern. What comes next?
- shoe, sock, shoe, sock, shoe, ???
- fork, spoon, fork, spoon, ???
- blue square Lego, red square Lego, blue square Lego, red square Lego, ???
- Then move on to items with one distinguishing characteristic
- a blue toy, a red toy, a blue toy, a red toy, ???
- a hard item, a soft item, a hard item, a soft item ???
5. Create Patterns
Children can create their own patterns in numerous ways. Here’s a few fun ideas.
Create patterns with:
- stampers and ink
- draw patterns
- Dot Markers
- sponge shape painting
- shells and rocks
- Pattern Blocks
- String Wooden Beads following color or shape patterns
- Math Link Cubes
6. Jack Heartman Alligator Chomp
Jack Hartman does a great song teaching patterns with clapping called Alligator Chomp
Be sure to check out more preschool math topics: