## Play with patterns

Children love patterns for several reasons. Patterns can be spotted all around us; patterns are predictable; pattern identification and creation can be easy or challenging. Practicing pattern recognition with games and worksheets is a perfect activity for when you’re in the house on a cold or rainy winter day! And I have found that children are eager to play “school games” after the unstructured vacation days in December. So introduce some fun worksheets or patterning challenges to keep your child happily engaged. And remind your child that a pattern is a sequence that repeats at least one time.

The beginning pattern worksheets and activities introduce the most basic pattern where two items alternate, called the AB pattern. The missing shape is chosen from a small group of shapes found at the bottom of the page. Ask your child to cut the seven squares neatly and place them alongside the worksheet. (Since this page is not specifically designed for cutting practice, cut the squares for your child if she is not yet able to do that accurately.)  Then ask your child to point to each shape in the row and say the shape name aloud. Your child will likely recognize the alternating AB pattern. If your child needs a bit of assistance to identify the pattern, show her just the two shapes used for the pattern and ask her to choose the shape that comes next in the pattern. Direct her to place the squares in the empty boxes and then say the pattern aloud by saying the shape name as she touches each box to reinforce the AB pattern.

The intermediate pattern worksheets and activities increase the challenge in two ways. First, the patterns presented are more complex including AAB, ABB, ABC, and AABB patterns. Also, your child will be asked to draw the missing shape instead of selecting the shape from the group of cut squares. Direct your child to draw the shapes with a pencil to give her the opportunity the change the shape if needed. The most challenging patterns on the intermediate pages have missing shapes early in the row, so your child will need to look at the sequence of shapes in the second part of the row to identify the pattern.

The advance pattern worksheets and activities ask children to repeat a given, complicated pattern. The patterns contain 5, 6, or 7 lines. The dotted lines indicate the beginning of the repetition. Direct your child to first identify the pattern by naming the lines “tall, medium, and short” and saying the pattern aloud. Then ask her to use a pencil to trace the dotted lines and continue drawing lines to match the solid lines at the start of the each row and create two additional repetitions of the pattern. These advanced worksheets help children understand that even a complicated sequence is a pattern if it repeats.

In addition to the patterning worksheets, your child can practice identifying and creating patterns with the following activities:

• Give your child a small pile of socks in two or three colors. Demonstrate how to use the colored socks to create a pattern based on color. Direct your child to identify your pattern and continue it for one or two additional repetitions. Then ask your child to create a pattern with the socks and challenge you to identify it!
• Cut colored pieces of construction paper into squares and challenge your child to create a pattern across the top of a piece of white paper. After checking the pattern for accuracy, ask your child to paste the squares onto the paper and mark each like-colored square with the same letter. For instance, if your child alternates red and blue squares on the paper, she can mark the red squares with the letter A and the blue squares with the letter B to indicate an AB pattern.
• Children enjoy playing with food!  Present your child with two or three different kinds of cereal pieces and ask her to create a pattern on a paper plate. For example, you could give your child two or three colors of Fruit Loop pieces, or mix round Kix cereal pieces with square Chex pieces. Of course, your child can eat her pattern after she shows it to you!
• Bingo markers can be used to create patterns with two or more colors. Provide your child with a strip of white paper and ask her to use the markers to create a repeating pattern of colored dots. Start with two colors and then ask her to make a pattern using three colors.