by Allison McDonald Kids love to sort and sorting is a stepping stone to recognizing and making patterns. Using toys and playful activities to work on math skills is the only way I do it with preschoolers. My son loved doing more structured work so I offered it to him but my daughter is much more into using manipulatives and toys for learning . These block tower patterns let your kids explore patterns and even if they don’t complete the pattern they are still building a tower . Depending on your child and your goals for them you can choose to correct them or simply have fun building towers knowing that they might not be ready for this challenge yet .
- Gather your materials. All you will need are some blocks that stay together . Duplo or Little People Builders are my favorite for this age group but if you are doing this with older children regular Lego is awesome. I like blocks that inter-lock because the goal is to pattern and/or build and if your child is spending all their time rebuilding towers that fall apart they could get frustrated and in our house frustration often leads to the end of an activity.
- Make some simple pattern towers with the blocks. Set the blocks needed to complete the patterns to the side. Depending on your child’s ability you can put only the blocks needed here to work as prompts or have lots of options to make it more of a challenge.
- Invite your little tower builder over to check it out. All I told her was that I built some towers and needed help to figure out which blocks go next. If she was older I would have said something more like ” Do you notice anything about these towers? ” If they don’t notice the pattern I would say ” I see a pattern. Do you think we could keep the pattern going ?”
- She was on these towers like a house on fire. Once I saw that she was getting it I would question her if she put a block that wasn’t in the pattern on . Saying something like ” Let’s sing this pattern. Blue red white blue red … what ‘s next? ” of ” Do you see that color in the tower?” It’s a fine line of keeping it playful but giving your child a challenge they can do. I don’t always say the right things.
- After she completed each tower she built a huge one and knocked it over in celebration. Then we did it all again! That’s the best part of this you can do it over and over again. Each time we celebrated!
Keeping learning playful is a huge goal of mine and even though you see the more structured side of this on the blog these activities make up only a very tiny part of our day and some days not even that much. Noticing patterns during every day play is a great way to introduce them to your child. Observations don’t have to spin into drawn out lessons just observe, talk and keep playing. For more fun math ideas for your preschooler check out our Math is Fun board on Pinterest.
I love my heart paper punch and my kids do too. It’s fun to make hearts for Valentine’s Day Crafts but you can also use them for math, write letters on them and play match.. the variations are endless. These three activities are just a few of the ways we have used punched out paper hearts lately.
I love painting in new ways and this was a great craft for my 19 month old who as you can see even helps me make a mess with a low mess activity like this. For another version of Valentine shake painting check out Hands On As We Grow- older kids will dig how they did it for sure!
- Gather your materials. You will need a plastic food container, some punched hearts( or cut out from construction paper), a piece of card stock, glue and paint of your choosing.
- Punch out some hearts from construction paper.
- Place them and paint in the food container. It’s easier to put the paint in first, they shake better that way. If you are nuts enough to hand your toddler the bottle of paint like I was be ready with a washcloth or my favorite- wipes.
- Put the top on and shake.
- Open and be amazed!
- Fold the card stock and add glue .
- Add hearts to glue and let dry. After seeing how cool the hearts looked someone else wanted in on the fun.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to only be about arts and crafts, we love math and made this super easy patterning activity.
- Gather your materials. You will need your paper hearts, a cookie sheet ( check out the dollar store), some double stick tape , a paper cup and a sheet of construction paper.
- Start by taping the paper down on the cookie sheet and adding double stick tape to the hearts.
- Make some simple patterns. I like to start simple then slip a harder one or two in before getting easier again. I want my son to feel successful but challenged.
- Place the extra in a cup . I make sure there aren’t too many extra hearts but that there is more than the few he needs to finish the pattern.
- Complete the patterns.
After we were done with this my daughter ( who is all about hearts right now)painted over it for a valentine for my husband. I love when we reuse tray table activities like that.
Heart Color Match
This is another easy tray activity. Using a silicone pan I placed a different color paper heart in each and had the corresponding colors in a pile waiting to be matched up. This was too hard for my daughter at 19 months and my son would be bored to tears with it. It’s smack in the middle between their abilities so no pics of their participation but I still wanted to include the idea for the older toddlers and younger preschoolers who would love it.
Heart of Hearts Collage
I made this last year over at my other blog Craftitivity Corner on FamilyEducation.com pop over to see the tutorial.
I stand by that title, this really is the easy and cheap too, but still a super cute 4th of July craft . We used felt but you could use fabric if you have it on hand. My son was busy playing knights with his grandparents visiting from Texas but I think he could have made this with me. It’s a great patterning lesson, though I would guess most 5 and under would tire of it after a few minutes so make this a group endeavor if need be.
I love wreaths almost as much as I love garlands! This Valentine’s Day craft is fun , easy to make and easy on your wallet. The foam hearts are super light and I was able to tape the wreath to a door in our house using only blue painters tape . Also if you want you can turn it into a patterning lesson as well or just randomly glue the hearts on.
- Gather your materials. You will need a paper plate, glue, foam heart picks ( got mine 9 for a dollar at the dollar store), red markers and scissors.
- Start by coloring the paper plate with markers. We used red but use whatever color your child wants to.
- Start by having your child pull the tops off the heart picks. I twisted them so they were easier to pop off. This step was really fun.
- While they do that cut the middle out.
- Add a lot of glue. If you don’t normally let your child do the glue because they use too much, let them with this one. You need a lot of glue so let them at it!
- Add your hearts. Randomly or in a pattern. I just let him do it however he wanted and he quickly settled on a pattern and sang it out as he added it. You can also sneak counting in here if you want.
- Let dry.
This month will be filled with Fall and Halloween crafts and themed activities . I had to post this one now so that all of you Target shoppers can get to the dollar spot to buy these Halloween erasers before they are gobbled up. I love using themed mini erasers for learning activities especially as math manipulatives.
Using manipulatives is a great way to introduce children to graphing. Explain that graphs help us see the answers to questions . Also take the time to make predictions before graphing , such as which row will have the most , which will have the least?Ask them why? I am always fascinated by the reasons why my son makes certain predictions.
- Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of white paper, a ruler, markers, some fun Halloween manipulatives, and a plastic jack-o-lantern container. I think when you try to make everything themed kids get more excited and learn more.
- Start by making an easy graph. I used pictures and words to represent our manipulatives, my son is interested in the words but not yet ready to rely only on them.
- Grab the manipulatives you are using . I made sure to have 3 different amounts . Pop them in your jack-0-lantern.
- Invite your child(costume optional) to the table to start. My son dumped the erasers but taking them out one at a time is great too!
- Ask your child to make a prediction – which of the three designs do they think will have the most? Least? Why?
- Place them on the graph.
- Keep going!
- Just by looking at them which has the most? Least?
- Count them to check.
Patterning was one of my favorite preschool math activities to teach. I have found that if you sing song the pattern children have an easier time recognizing the pattern and start using that device themselves when encountered with a pattern they need to continue.
- Gather your materials. 2-3 different manipulatives like these Halloween themed erasers in a container, some sentence strips are optional but I like them because they give my son a frame for the pattern. When I simply place the erasers on the table it looks like I expect him to keep the pattern going to the edge of the table and the task seems much more daunting.
- Make some simple patterns .
- Provide a container and ask your child to keep the pattern going.
- If they need help try labeling the pattern out loud . For example saying ” Pumpkin, Bat, Pumpkin, Bat… what comes next?
- Keep going, if they are frustrated with the more difficult patterns scrap them and make multiple simpler ones. The goal is success and if it’s too challenging for them they will get frustrated and learning will be minimal.