1. Parenting

50 Things to Use for Teaching Patterns

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50 Things to Use for Teaching Patterns
Photo: Amanda Morin

Patterns can be found everywhere, but when you are teaching your child to make patterns and she hasn’t yet figured out how to create and recreate patterns, it’s hard for her to recognize those that occur naturally in the world. Typically when we think of making patterns, we think in the most basic terms: repeating a set of items in a particular sequence.

For example: “apple, banana, apple, banana, apple” is a basic ABA pattern. “Apple, apple, banana, apple, apple, banana” is a basic AAB pattern. The items are repeated in a certain order. But if you look closely, there are other elements that make that a pattern too. You could think of it as “red, yellow, red, yellow, red,” or as “sphere, crescent, sphere, crescent, sphere” as well.

There are a few games you can play to help reinforce the idea of patterns, including Categories: A Circle Game and Hop, Skip and Jump: A Movement Circle Game, but when you’re teaching your child to make patterns, it’s always good to have a variety of different items from which she can choose, so she can make visual patterns in both simple and complex ways.

Here are 50 items that can be used to make patterns:

  1. beads
  2. Pattern blocks
  3. people
  4. sounds (clap, pat, slap, clap, pat, slap)
  5. Instruments
  6. stickers
  7. seashells
  8. Fruit Loop cereal
  9. rubber stamps
  10. leaves
  11. blocks
  12. Unifix cubes
  13. Teddy Bear counters
  14. Teddy Grahams
  15. socks
  16. shoes
  17. construction paper shapes
  18. sponge prints
  19. die cut shapes
  20. coins
  21. bills
  22. foam numbers
  23. foam letters
  24. foam stickers
  25. magnetic letters
  26. magnetic numbers
  27. checkers
  28. marbles
  29. dice
  30. buttons
  31. bottle caps
  32. bottles/cans
  33. Bingo stampers
  34. Colored dot stickers (like the one you would use to price items for garage sales)
  35. decorative/fake jewels
  36. toy dinosaurs
  37. Matchbox cars
  38. crayons
  39. markers
  40. colored pencils
  41. colored popsicle sticks
  42. scraps of cloth
  43. squares (or any shape) of wrapping paper
  44. mini-erasers
  45. pom-poms
  46. colored/variable-sized paper clips
  47. nuts and bolts
  48. pipe cleaners
  49. M & M’s
  50. Runts candy

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