Patterning is a basic preschool math skill, but the young kids often need practice to be proficient at creating patterns. Give the kids plenty of chances to practice repeating and creating their own patterns.
The morning calendar activities are an easy way to incorporate patterning. Make the numbers that you put on the calendar a pattern. You might use color as a pattern. For example, to do an A-B pattern with color, you might make the odd calendar numbers green and the even ones yellow. Another option is to incorporate shapes. Print the odd numbers on one shape and the even numbers on a different shape. When you add each new number, go over the pattern with the kids.
Small blocks or other small toys work well for letting the kids create their own patterns. Make a row of squares on a long strip of paper. Each square is a spot for an object in the pattern. Give the kids a particular pattern, such as A-B or A-A-B, to build in the squares. For preschoolers who are just learning patterning, you might need to start the pattern and have them finish it.
Let the kids create a pattern as a piece of art. Use shapes cut from construction paper. The kids glue the shapes onto a piece of paper in a pattern. Another option is to use stickers or stampers. The kids can use different stickers or stampers to make a pattern.
Pictures and objects aren’t the only way to create patterns. Use sounds to practice patterning with the preschoolers. A simple way to make a sound pattern is by clapping or stomping. To make an A-B pattern, the kids might clap then stomp one foot, then repeat. You can also use simple instruments, like shakers to make patterns.
This idea works well either as a group or in a learning center. Get large beads or tinted pasta noodles in different colors or shapes. The kids thread the beads onto a pipe cleaner or piece of string to make a pattern bracelet. They can wear the bracelet and practice the pattern.
Another activity is to find patterns in the environment. Have the kids search around the room or outside the school to find patterns. Examples might include stripes on a student’s shirt, a repeated pattern on a bulletin board border or alternating colors on a building. Take pictures of the patterns you find and create a display in the classroom.