Patterns are all around us. Children have a natural tendency to find patterns; research shows that if you give a child a box full of cups, they will most likely stack them into a pyramid.
Patterns help children learn sequencing and to make predictions, which leads to stronger mathematical skills. Times tables, addition and skip counting all require an understanding in patterning. Parents can play a big role in helping their child discover and understand patterns, and often the best way to do it is through play.
1. Stack, sort and count blocks
If your child is in preschool, you can help them sort items before learning to recognise patterns. You can use different coloured blocks and have them stack, sort and count them. By doing this simple and fun activity, your child will begin to notice things repeat in a certain order by size, shape or colour.
2. Match socks by size and colour
While folding the laundry, ask your child to help by matching socks by their size and colour, and then putting them into pairs. This introduces them to sorting and classifying based on pattern recognition. You can also use mittens and earrings. Count out loud by two’s with them so they become familiar with the concept of skip counting.
3. Sort kitchen items by category
Unpack your pots, frying pans, kitchen tongs and utensils and have your child help you sort them by category. You can guide them to sort the items by colour, shape, texture or size. Ask your child to name the groups of each category, like ‘containers’, ‘heavy objects’ or simply ‘black objects’. Sorting and classifying activities like this one encourage children to think analytically.
4. Beads on a string
Bean-making is a fun way to keep children occupied for hours, and is a great way to teach them simple sequencing and pattern creation. Whether you use paper beads or pasta beads, make sure there are at least two different shapes, sizes or colours. Label each type of bead with a letter (e.g. ‘A’ for purple beads and ‘B’ for pink beads) and ask your child to create a pattern on a string based on sequences you say aloud, for example, ‘A-B-A-B’.
5. ‘I spy’ patterns in nature
There are so many patterns to observe in nature, from the colour of leaves to the notes of a songbird. Play a guessing game ‘I spy a pattern’ to encourage your child to observe and create patterns. You can start off with something simple like, ‘I spy with my eye a pattern with stripes’. Your child can then take guesses by looking around while you give them more clues until they guess correctly.
Mathseeds is the fun online maths program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of highly engaging interactive lessons designed to build essential early maths and problem solving skills.
Visit www.mathseeds.com for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and let your child experience the fun way of learning maths.