Creating patterns is one of those preschool math skills that seems like “just fun” but really is forming the basis for lifelong learning.
Some kids are “natural patterners” doing it without encouragement making patterns for fun with everything from peas and carrots to blocks and legos. Others require a little more hand holding — paper strip crafts are a fun way for kids to practice their patterning skills.
Parents and caregivers help more than we realize by pointing out patterns that we see. If you’re doing the craft with your child, verbally reinforce their efforts, “Oh! Look at the great pattern you made here — I see you used one pink, one red, one pink, one red. Great job!” If working with a small group of children, you can have each child share their pattern with the others.
Remind the children that a pattern is only a pattern if it is repeated at least twice. It might still look pretty without repeating, but it needs to repeat to be a pattern.
The simplest pattern is made with two colors (AB, AB) and should be where you start with your children. Once that’s mastered they can make more complex two color patterns (AAB, AAB) and then move on to three colored patterns!
I like to let the girls arrange their pattern before pulling out the glue. Then I let them “read it” to me out loud. Often when reading their pattern, they notice any mistakes they made and self correct.
Once the pattern is established, we can work on gluing the pattern to the back of the template. Again, encourage them to read their pattern as they glue with smiles, engagement and repetition.
Active listening is important when working with kids (they really do notice if you’re distracted). If you’re super busy and just can’t pay attention, that’s ok — we all get swamped! Just pick a simple activity for them to work on solo and then give them 5 focused minutes at the end of their project to share it with you.
Check out the Valentine’s Day heart patterning craft (I included a few templates to make things a bit easier to set up).