Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April Calendar

This is what our calendar wall will look like to begin the month of April.  There is room for additional items if I so desire.  We moved the number display to another wall.  This month I'll have the tactile numbers nearby since the older ones are getting really good at telling me what the calendar number looks like.  So we'll use the tactile numbers with the little guy to help reinforce the numeral recognition and formation.  Also, Trent is not taking a morning nap all the time so it will give him something to feel and "play" with while we are doing calendar. 

The bird and birdhouse alphabet display was a free printable from  I often reduce the size of her printables as we don't have much space and we also have a small it works out fine.  The birds are removeable so we can work with upper/lower case letter matching.

The calendar is also from  She has tracing and blank calendars.  We are moving onto an ABC pattern, as you can notice, I have 3 colors of markers in the cup along with the craft sticks.  I really do need to find a "spring" themed cup.  At least not a snowman!!!    The craft sticks and pointer worked out very well, so we will continue that.

Above the calendar is something "new".  Not new to all of them but definitely new to the youngest.  His interest and attention span is growing so wanted to work this back in to our calendar.  Time is a concept that is difficult to understand and they really don't grasp it until Kindergarten/first grade.  At the preschool stage, I'm looking for understanding of time by their vocabulary (yesterday, last year, today, tomorrow, in a few minutes, when I'm done, after nap, after centers, etc...even if used incorrectly.)  We'll sing our days of the week song (working from left to right and other print concepts) and move the birds accordingly.  Not sure if you can see it but yesterday's is pointing to the left, tomorrow's pointing to the right, and today is a penguin that is facing forward (kind was hard to find a bird pointing forward!).  Side note:  I typed the words in primary colors and used secondary colored craft sticks.  Reinforce concepts whereever possible!!!

Left the opposite cards out because they did enjoy the song and cards.  And with Trent probably going to be joining to have something for him!

Adding a beginning sound bag.  Inside of the bag are items that start with the /b/ sound.  (B is for bird).  We'll do other sounds other days (f is for feather, n is for nest, etc).  On the back of the bag I wrote the song, for my own reference.  It was from The Mailbox publication: Almost Ready To Read.   
Tune:  London Bridge
Pass the bag from friend to friend,
Friend to friend, friend to friend.
When the song stops, reach right in.
What do you have? 

We have a blue jay word wheel.  We've been introducing word families without getting into too much detail.  They love things like this and it's a great foundation builder!  It's from another Mailbox publication titled Word Family Helpers.  Cute reproducibles in that book.

I'm missing the kids and it's only Wednesday!  We'll all be ready to "get back to work" by Monday!   

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rebus Recipes

Rebus Recipes:  I mentioned I'd visit this topic so maybe today is a good day!  Why do we "cook" with children. 
*  If a child makes it...they'll taste it.  So a good way to introduce new foods.
*  Fine motor.  Maybe you aren't doing an actual recipe but children can scrub carrots and potatoes with a brush, they can slice cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers and so on with a plastic or table knife.  They can slice strawberries in an egg slicer.  They can grate cheese and carrots.  Etc.  There is almost something in every meal that a child can help with...even if it's just rinsing the food.  These types of activities are priceless.  Not only do they help you (after some practice on their part :-P) but you are teaching them practical life skills, helping them have an interest in healthy eating and also working those small muscles in their hands.
*  Recipes.  You can create a very simple recipe on your own but there are resources out there for you if you wish to use them.  Rebus recipes teaches children about print concepts.  They teach them about following directions.  About safety....measurement/counting and other math skills.  You can even slip in some cultural studies if you want!

My favorite is The Mailbox Preschool magazines.  They have a rebus recipe in every magazine.  Which is where we got the recipes pictures for the Sunshine Salad they made in the picture above.  The Mailbox also has a book called Kids in the Kitchen.  It's a compilation of many of these Rebus Recipes that are found in the magazines.

You can see a sample of their recipes and the table of contents in this book.  Check it out! 
Not my favorite site but will give you an idea how to use images you can find on the Internet to make your own.  This is a great use for a digital camera also.  It took me a moment but I figured out that the top images in these recipes are "what we need".  Then the picture directions are below.
Hubbard's Cupboard has a selection of simple recipes that you could easily make into rebus recipes. Most have a "final outcome" image.
Again, not as organized and clear as The Mailbox rebus recipes but they work.
Here is one that is a bit more organized and clear.  Rebus cards are black and white and each one a half of page.  You could use the "2 pages on 1" print option on your printer to get them to be about 1/4 of a piece of paper.  That works nicely for small groups.  May wish to add some color.  This site also has additional learning ideas that can help you "extend" or "lead into" your recipe activity.  Also gives good reminders like "work from right to left" (print concept). 

Extension:  The children love it when I take these recipe cards and laminate them, attach a ring and put them with the "kitchen stuff" for further dramatic play.

Friday, March 25, 2011

"I'm NOT creative!"

"I'm just not creative!"  Have you told yourself that?  Guess what, I'm not least not in an artsy way.  :-)  But aren't we glad for all those creative people that share their ideas and pictures?  I sure am!  Here's one very creative, artsy person whose blog I wish to share.  I used her great handprint ideas as a jumping board for a monthly activity I do with the children.  I love my digital camera.  I can snap away at the children, at least when I'm not actively involved at the moment, and usually come up with some pretty neat pictures.  But, there is usually a "favorite" each month.  I've done picture frames in the past and other hand/foot print projects but this year I simplified it and on the right side of the page is a picture of the child and on the left side is a theme related handprint project.  Typically done with paint or stamp pad.  February's just got later and later in the month of March so I decided to do just the simple sign for I Love You with construction paper vs. some of the more fancy painted handprint heart ideas.  So, really simple way to create memories.  Trent is always the hardest one to get to look decent.  :-)  Something about ticklish hands and the newness of having paint brushed on them!  He's getting better though!

(Brain is mush again. Sorry.  Short and simple today.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Weather Theme-Misc

Pretty emotional day for me today so we'll keep this short because my brain is a bit "mush".  I see I have a few pics from the day before the snow days I'll share . We didn't get to the rest of our activities- rainbow- due to the snow so perhaps when we get back from Spring Break it'll be a little more appropriate!  Though, we do talk about how Spring brings MANY types of weather.
Here are the children doing the actual sunshine seriation and sort.  
It went over very well.  Even Trent (not quite two) sorted a few rays between the 2 smallest suns and got 90% of them correct!  Goes with his sense of order I'm sure.

Our sunshine salad.
Well, this is lemon jello in whipped topping for the "sunshine" and pineapple tidbits for the rays.  We strive for a corn syrup free menu. Unfortunately, the day we planned to do our sunshine my whipping cream was spoiled.  So we did it the next day with whipped topping.  Tasted good but had cs.  :-9  They all enjoyed this.  In another blog, I'll talk about recipes.  :-)

Lot different than the typical way we do windsocks.  Here, it's a storage bag that they cut from the bottom in strips and put stickers on both sides of the top half.  (I had precut a sliver off the bottom already for them.)  Hole punch the top and tie yarn at each hole to make a loop (keeps the bag open to catch the breeze).  They seemed to enjoy these.  I thought the bag would be hard for them to cut but it was really easy-almost too easy!  Stickers add a nice fine motor component.

Well, I thought we'd make a rainbow windchime but it changed a bit.  :-)
We're not done with these yet but this is the process.  The child and I talked about the weather cards and about the weather they like or dislike and why.  Then they chose one to draw and dictate about.  Here K. chose lightening and her sentences were "I was scared of the lightening.  I wanted to be with Mom and Dad."  The other two children wrote about weather they liked.

Then the child went to the next center where I had yarn and beads waiting for them.
This is the part they need to finish.  It's very time consuming for them and better for them to work on it little by little.  They chose what color yarn, how long it was going to be, the color of beads and how many they were going to put on them.  One child even created an ABBABB pattern!

And Mr. Trent didn't want to take a morning nap this particular morning so here was his "task".  :-)
Pipecleaners work best with little ones with minimal lacing experience or control.

That Incredible Foam I was looking for for St. Patty's Day?  Well, I found it!

These turned out nicely. 
We were running out of morning time so I didn't get a dictation sentence on them but they did think they were cool!  Notice the obvious differences in them.  Can you tell that in picture one, the child wasn't here when we focused on clouds?  There is also an interest factor playing in here also.  Picture two, there's a little sun up there in the left hand corner.  He does great for his age with representational drawing.  I don't normally see it at a young 3.  And his clouds are very typical for preschool aged children.  Picture 3...YEAH!  I don't expect them to remember all the cloud names and such but this picture shows me she grasped something.  Typically she'd do clouds like the second picture.  Also a bit more detail in her picture with a couple flowers with her sun.  I heard her tell her daddy one afternoon "I learned about clouds today!"  Not very often can we get preschool OR school-age children to tell us something they learned that day.  :-P 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Misc. "Spring" Pictures

Well, 3rd day of Spring and we have a snow day!  :-)  But, though I have a lot I can do with regards to cleaning and organizing, I decided it would be more fun to go through old pictures and see what activities I've done in the past. 

I see here that my oldest son was reviewing a lesson from Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  You could make a sheet similar.  I'm sure this mat was from a Mailbox publication.  I place my pages into a sheet protector or laminate them as any dampness will smear the colors on the paper because we don't have a laser printer (yet). :-)
Just Ducky! 

He chose a word to place on the umbrella and then recreated it using paper letter squares.

PB bird feeders are almost always a hit.
These were done with tp tubes but can also be done with other cardboard shapes to review shapes.  Great fine motor! Hold punch FIRST, then let them spread the pb, roll in bird seed, add yarn and hang it on a tree outside.

You can easily slip in graphing using various "spring" cut outs.
Taking a closer look here I noticed that the color birds at the bottom of the graph actually had a child's initial.  Why I did that was because each child was at different development.  So I hid the birds around the room and had each child find a certain color.  Aaron would have been the oldest in this group.  The child with the brown birds (2) would have been just reaching "preschool age" here. 

Ah!  Yes.  This magnet set has gotten a lot of use out of it!
I'm sure we were doing a bird/egg theme...most likely with the focus of robins.  Thus, the blues and whites.
Here's the actual set.  It was purchased from

During our bird theme, we typically do two types of feather painting.  One at the easel with very large feathers and one at the table with smaller craft feathers taped to a craft stick.
This particular activity was a scissor activities.  In my opinion, it's not art...even if there is paint involved.  There is very little opportunity for creativity here.  They cut around the feather and then when the dry the also fringed cut around the feather.  Fringe cutting is actually what "new cutters" do, for the most part.  They don't follow a line, they just snip if the paper is small enough or fringe cut around the endge of a paper.  However, with an older student it helps to teach them to control their scissors. 

Birdseed makes a good sensory material.  Supervise, as usual.
I saw with another picture that there were foam worms of different lengths in the birdseed and that was their task prior to free explorations.  They found all the different colors/lengths of worms and put them on a bird mat.  Then they stated the colors (color review) and then seriated them.

Oh yes!  This was a great but simple fine motor activity!  
Children cut out their pot, then removed the backing of as many foam flower stickers as they wanted.  They stuck them on their paper pretty much anywhere and drew a stem with marker from the flower to the pot.  Looks like we added a little math in there by counting the flowers and writing the numeral on the pot.  Activities like this are good for color review also.

Memories!!!  Wow, time has flown!
Definitely important to get that outside time in!

There was one picture in particular I was looking for.  We do the activity every year and they always love it.  So I'll be on the look out for it and post it when I find it.  Or I'll post a more recent picture we we actually do the activity in April.  Has to do with "rain".  Better let this be all for today.  I SHOULD try to get something done around this house when there isn't any children here but my own and two are outside!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mathematics and Preschoolers VIII

Well, introducing the Classic Balance Scale with Bears, from, yesterday made me realize that I haven't talked about measurement yet.  At the preschool level we want to introduce vocabulary that goes along with measurement and then the majority of our hands-on activities are going to be nonstandard measurement. 

So let's start with vocabulary:
It's starts as simple as "big" and "small".  Here are some other vocab that I use regularly, not in any specific order.
long, longer, longest
big, bigger, biggest
small, smaller, smallest
tall, short
narrow, wide
ruler, tape measure, scale
perimeter (actually this is used daily.  We glue "around the perimeter" of the shape.)
heavy, light
equal, same
more, less, fewer
couple, dozen
yesterday, today, tomorrow, week, month, year
about, approximately
Some vocab for specific activities:
cup, oz, tbs. etc
time, minute, hours
inch, foot, yard

So what is nonstandard measurement?  Simply's measuring without using an actual ruler, tape measure, scale etc.  Our goal is to "introduce" measurement.  Does that mean we never get the rulers and tape measures out.  Absolutely not.  We get them out for free exploration or for practical purpose when it's part of our verbal problem solving (please talk your "problems" out so your children hear how you are solving the problem...this is priceless!).  We just don't expect them to measure something and tell us how many inches, cm, etc an object is (some children will and that is just fine!). 

Children love to measure with their body.  Talk about how when we measure we have to use the same size object and they must be put one after another.  You can show how it works on a ruler. 
   * Sid the Science Kid: Exploring Measurement is an excellent DVD for preschoolers as an intro.  After watching this DVD they'll want to measure a room using their complete body.
   *  You can measure how long objects, let's say a piano bench, is by measuring with a child's hand.
   *  Measure how long the sandbox with their feet, one foot in front of another.

All those manipulatives that you are using for patterning, counting, sorting and etc can be used for measurement also!  (As long as they are the same size.)  Linking cubes, plastic links, inch cubes, blocks, crackers, craft sticks, dominoes,.  And check your toy shelf...what can be used there? Once you show a child how to do this, you'll begin to see it in their own play. Presently we have our Cracker Barrel Checkers set out.  Do they play checkers?  No.  They do use them for 1:1 activities, matching colors, patterning, measuring and so on.

The maraca is 3 dominoes long.

The window is 19 checkers wide.

Another manipulative that works well for measuring is the Gingerbread Sort and Snap.  We purchased ours from  I take that back...we got our from with free super saver shipping :-) but you can purchase from Discount.

The rhythm sticks is approximately 5 gingerbread people long.

Another activity we do with multiple themes are use our mini accents that has been purchased from  I laminate mine for durability.  Here's a picture from our pumpkin theme, they were measuring themselves.  This particular time they also had a sheet with blackline pumpkins along the one side with the same numbers and they drew themselves starting at how tall they were at the wall and working down to the number 1 pumpkin.  Then they had a fill in the blank sentence that they used our number stamps with "I am _____ pumpkins tall!"

Using inch worms that are actually an inch long works nicely to introduce actual rulers. You can put 12 inch worms along a ruler to show 12 inches.  I just google an image and make it an inch in my Print Shop, copy and paste a bunch, print on cardstock, laminate and cut out. Here is an example of one inch work you can find if you google it. He's a cute little bugger!

Another cute way to lead into actual rulers are to make nonstandard measurement rulers first by using craft sticks.  You can easily make it theme related by using foam shapes or stickers.  

The block is about 4 faces long.

I don't typically use yarn for measurement except for those circumference introductions (measuring around a pumpkin, for example) or if a child is interested in maps and scales and so on.  But here is an activity we did awhile back but plan to do here again soon.  You can get a lot out of this activity if you plan it just right.  :-)
Use a theme related object or have the children choose an object to measure.  Then cut off yarn strips that are longer, shorter, and approximately the same size.  Then together as a group sort them.  You can write the words with the children (teaching them print concepts), you can remind them about longer, shorter, and same by drawing corresponding lines under the words.  You can arrange it so that when you are done you can review, long-longer-longest, short-shorter-shortest, and equal.)  Also, one skill I look for is the ability for the children to look at a set of three and tell me that there are three there without counting that is why I chose 3 yarn lengths for each category.  :-) 

Well, measurement is beyond just length, height and width but that is what we focus on the most.  We do cooking activities on occasion. Wanted to do a weekly one but it just doesn't seem like there is enough time in the days!  Weight and capacity is often through sensory exploration and as time goes on you'll know when to keep quiet and when you can slip in a question or statement to help scaffold their learning.  At the preschool level, time pretty much is about yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  When we do things (day/night), the order of the schedule-"We'll eat after centers." "Mom will be here after nap." and so on.  Money can be introduced but remember that Kindergarten teachers typically begin teaching about money and time the 2nd half of the year.  For example, Caleb is just now learning about money.  They really get into in 1st grade.  You can do simple coin recognition activities and do some counting with pennies (1s) and if you wish you can practice your skip counting (10s, 5s) with dimes and nickles.  in general, just have some plastic coins and money out for their dramatic play.  We also have a game called "ALLOWANCE" that is lovely for Aaron (7-8 years old) but Caleb does just fine with some help (5 years).  I do not recommend it for preschoolers.

As you can tell, I can go on and on but time doesn't allow.  So we'll let this be all for today! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mathematics and Preschoolers VII

The terms "more", "less", and "equal" are important mathematical vocabulary. Did you know that you are actually teaching children to analyze when you are comparing sets? Everything we teach our preschoolers is setting the stage for more complex skills. We want children to be able to look at objects/sets and see differences and similarities. We also want them to understand what the terms "more", "less" and "equal" mean.

For the most part, I slip in the question about more/less informally with any type of set comparison activities. It works well for them to predict what set has more or less or if they have the same. Then use 1:1 to compare the two sets. Putting them next to each other in a row.

         Double Sided Counters             Magnetic Two Sided Counters

These double sided counters are something on my wish list so that I can do more formal more/less activities. I've always had good intentions when I said I'd just spray paint a set of dried beans to make my own 2 sided counters but it always gets pushed down on the priority list. Lakeshore's product is a bit more expensive but I believe the counters are larger, more durable and probably more of them in a set. However, I do like the ones from also. They are magnetic so they are less likely to move when we are comparing. However, they seem smaller, thinner and perhaps a little less durable. But might work fine for supervised play.

I do introduce the signs that go along with more and less. The equal (=) sign is usually already introduced as we use it with our addition and subtraction activities. In the next picture you can see the sign I made for introducing the sign. It's a green alligator mouth. They turn it so the alligator eats the largest set. We also used our Penny Toss Mats here to help us create sets of apples (apple theme).

At they have something very similar but use a deck of cards and a whole alligator. Either way works.

I also use our teddy bear counters and scale to explore with more or less. They predict which set of bears is more/less and then they get an instant visual. We do less with counting because this set is the weighted set. I have used it with other manipulatives that are of the same weight and then we compare and count the sets.

The red and blue covers are removable so that is nice also. It was purchased through, called the Classic Balance Scale with Bears.

Other ideas for More/Less:
* Two Styrofoam bases and fake flowers. Or 2 vases and fake flowers. Children love arranging flowers. In the past we did something to incorporate mathematics into dramatic play (flower shop).
* Save and wash/dry apple seeds or pumpkin seeds and then provide a simple mat with two blackline apples or pumpkins. They can grab a handful of seeds and place one set in one apple/pumpkin and another handful in the other. Then count and add the appropriate sign (<,>,=).
* Any type of manipulatives, as mentioned in past blogs, or snack items can be used for more/less activities. Sometimes it's nice to give them a set, such as a strip of linking cubes, and ask them to make one that is more or less instead of always comparing them.
* Magnetic trains- "I have a train that 3 cars long, can you make one that has more cars?" "Choo-Choo"-drive around the track.
* In water play have two similar containers and use colored water so they can easily see the water line. When they have both containers filled at different levels, slip in the question "which one has more water?"
* The Elefun game is kind of neat for an activity like this. Catch the butterflies in the net and then make two lines to compare who got more and less that round.
* Provide a bowlful of pom poms, dice, pair of tweezers or small tongs and an icecube tray. Roll the dice and use the tweezers to put the pom poms in the top row of the icecube tray. Roll the dice again and put another set underneath. Using only two colors (may with to have two bowls) helps to keep it from getting confusing. Compare by sight and also by counting.

Happy learning!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mathematics and Preschoolers VI

I know there are still many more skills that fall under "mathematics" that I haven't touched on.  let's see...maybe we'll talk about seriation since it was mentioned in the blog regarding patterning. 

Seriation is arranging a set of objects in order by size.  There are some preschools that enroll students as young as 2.5 years of age.  Many of these students are unable to seriate yet.  They are still working on the ability to note and use the vocabulary that goes with big and small.  When we begin seriation activities, I start with a set of 3 objects and move up.  I consider seriation activities the foundation for ordination skills.  That is putting numbers together in the correct order.  Seriation activities also allow for critical thinking and problem solving to take yes, please do incorporate these types of activities.

There are some toys and manipulatives out there that you can purchase...but you can also create your own.  Here is one set that I've recently purchased and we like.  It's lovely for a child just starting out with seriation activities as it gives them a base.

Nesting Sort & Stack Cylinders

This is a GuideCraft toy.  They also have the cube shape.  I love that they used shades of color.  This toy has been used as a jumping board into shades of color and how to make them.  :-)

The Melissa and Doug, Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks have been a more recent purchase.
These are great for an older student.  I find that because they are made out of cardboard they aren't as durable.  I prefer stacking manipulatives that I do not have to constantly remind them to "be gentle".  Stacking tends to lead to knocking over.  The alphabet on the blocks is a nice addition. 

Fisher Price Little Super Star Classical Stacker
(Can you tell I like  Free advertisement for them, I guess.)  :-)
Especially nice for toddlers and young preschoolers.

Basic Stacking Cups and Stacking Rings often can be found at dollar stores and other general stores.  I have a nice wooden stacking ring set that I found at a local dollar store.  :-)  Nesting animals and objects are nice too, as long as they open and shut easily.  We have a set of Nesting Penguins (large penguin with smaller ones inside) that I got on Christmas clearance.  My only problem with it is the largest one is hard to open.  Over time it's loosening up a bit though.  These are really for older students to give them a big of challenge.

Seriation activities are easily made at home to fit a theme.

This is one from the very beginning of the year when a couple of students hadn't been in my program for a school year and I needed a refresher of where they were at. 
They sorted the apples by color first then glued in order from largest to smallest. Obviously she had 3 and 4 down but the set of 5 objects was a little more difficult.  So I knew where to start. 

The Itsy Bitsy Spider
They cut out the three sizes of circles/spiders and glued in order.  Then we sang the song..."the great big spider..."  "The itsy bitsy spider..." and "The teeny weeny spider..." and changed our voices accordingly.

During our Winter Theme we seriated snowmen.
We can see that he was having some difficulty with a set of 6 pictures.  So with a little help in making the sets smaller and adding to them he was able to succeed.

So there are a few that were created with computer/printer.  :-)  Having a few they glue onto a piece of paper is helpful because then you can display it a bit and reinforce size vocabulary and for older children you can introduce ordinal numbers.  1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. sure to ask, "Where is the first (snowman).  The last one?"  This is something that I sometimes assume a child knows but most do not without a bit of practice.

Some of KidSparkz materials are free to print.  I believe that is maybe where I got the snowmen mentioned above.  The site address I pasted is directly to their order by size page but look into the other themes/skills and see if there is something you can use!

Using craft foam shapes for a seriation activity during our "shapes" theme.

During our "colors" theme week the children cut out the various colors and sizes of circles to make a target.
These look cool in square and triangle also.  I chose the colors so that they were in "rainbow order" so I could better reinforce coloring mixing.  Red background and red interior made this possible. 

Other Ideas:
*  Different size snowmen with corresponding hat/scarf/broom.
*  Read The Three Bears.  You can create the Daddy (big), Mommy (medium) and Baby (little) bears and provide pictures of the items in the story in the corresponding size.  So a big, medium, small bowl, spoon, chair, bed, etc.
*  Craft stores and dollar stores often have holiday and seasonal craft cutouts in 3 or 4 different sizes, typically in foam.  Always go through their clearance aisles after a holiday and stock up for the next year.  :-)
*  Family chore:  put piles of towels in order by size as you and your child are folding them to incorporate a bit of seriation. Ours were:Daddy towels (large), Mommy towels (medium), hand towels (small), wash clothes (smaller). 
* For new learners of this skill, give them a visual.  Provide a set of three objects that are obviously different in size (big, medium, small) and give them a visual using seperate pieces of construction paper or foam sheets (big, medium, and small).
* Cut straws in various lengths and add them to playdough (similar to what was mentioned for patterning.)
*  Snap a set of Unifix or Linking cubes together and encourage your child to form a staircase with the different lengths of cubes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mathematics and Preschoolers V

To introduce patterning I often start with using sounds and physical movements, in an ABAB format.  Children seem to internalize patterns more easily this way.  So, during a farm theme, I might put up an animal pattern strips of cow, duck, cow, duck, cow, duck.  And instead of the children saying the animal names we'll say "mooo, quack, mooo, quack, mooo, quack."   It's fun and the more fun something is the more apt for the child to stay interested and learn.

During our calendar time we use at least two different colors for our numbers and then clap hands/slap thighs when we are counting.  This way they have the visual of the pattern along with the actions or sounds.

When working with patterning I start the children out by first copying an ABAB pattern.  Once they begin to copy a pattern in an orderly fashion (matching the pictures is what they are doing) then we begin to ask "what comes next?" This is called extending a pattern.  Once they have success with extending then we move to them creating their own ABAB pattern.  Most kindergarten patterning work is in the ABAB pattern but I tend to encourage children to take a step further and explore with ABCABC patterns, AABBAABB and so on.  Once they grasp the concept of the ABAB pattern, they are on their way and can usually make some pretty extravagant patterns. 

These pattern strip cards were foam shapes hot glued to a strip of cardstock.  If a child is still needing practice with copying a simple pattern then I'll give them the shape strip and a blank strip underneath.  This gives them a visual to "copy".  If a child is past this copying stage and has moved on to extending then I'll move the blank strip to the right of the shape strip.  Again, a visual.  With this activity, I had a student who was at the level of creating his own patterns.  So after a review of extending, I just gave him the container of foam shapes and let him make his own.  Make your activities versatile so they can be used for whatever stage your child is at.

Giving a child a container like an icecube tray really helps.  And you are practicing 1:1 as you go along and slip in a pair of tongs or tweezers for further fine motor.
With an icecube tray a child can copy, extend, and/or create their own patterns. Here I used pom poms as an example but anything works.  Pasta, buttons, erasers, etc

The following is an activity we did during winter (clothing) theme.  A scarf from the dollar store and jumbo craft sticks. Obviously, this child understands patterning.  He filled the whole scarf multiple times with various patterns. 
This next picture made my day!  :-) She had already done her pattern task with me and then...
Yes! She was practicing making the letters out of sticks.  NO PROMPTING!  :-P 
Just remember not to "overdo" practicing a skill.  A child is more apt to grasp a skill with several "couple minute" tasks vs. spending a LOT of time in one period on it.  So with the activity above, they were asked to create two patterns for me then they could used the sticks and scarf as they wished.

Incorporate literacy components throughout your day.  :-)
P is for polka dot, pattern, pink/purple, and plate.

Still in during our winter theme weeks.  We have a candy cane which is a winter treat.
I used playdough here but in the past they have created their own candy canes with paint or paper scraps.

Someone had a birthday!  So, of course, we slipped in some birthday activities.
They used crayon and water color resist to make the cake with their name.  Then they chose the color candles and the pattern they were going to make. 

Don't forget your art and craft supplies!
Again, it's okay to have them do a simple task for you and then let them have free exploration.  I've had children make a pattern border around their work and when they do it on their own you know they've got it!  Those jumbo pipe cleaners are fun...twist and what do you have an ABAB pattern.  :-)  Children love crowns and you can easily make pattern crowns by cutting a strip of construction paper to fit around their head and giving them supplies to make a pattern.  So maybe sponge paint a big, medium, little circle pattern (ABCABC).  If you use red paint you have big, medium, and little apples for an apple theme.  Just add stem and leaf.  :-)  Yellow paint, smiley faces.  White paint, add hat and details to make a snowman face, orange paint to make pumpkins. 

What you put out with your playdough or with your child's toys can encourage patterning.
Straws, pipe cleaners, and craft sticks are a favorite here.

Foam shape beads, purchased from a craft store can turn into a patterning activity.
For those that know us well, you know we attend a 4 day religious convention yearly.  Since there is a lot of sitting involved for the kiddos I like to have a few quiet learning activities available.  This set I made for my oldest son when he was a three year old.  Been used multiple times since. 

I like to introduce three dimensional shapes through play and patterning.
Here we had been talking about homes.  They copied this pattern and then moved on to extending and making their own.  A cylinder and cone made the "round houses".  A cube and pyramid made up the "square house".  This set was purchased from and is called "Geometric Shapes Tub".

Don't forget blocks!  You can pattern by color, shape, size, and so on.

Or your pegs and pegboards!

Linking cubes or unifix cubes work nicely for patterning.

Craft foam pieces from craft and dollar stores. 

This following activity is something we are going to do next week, we are continuing our weather theme.
Foam circles and foam strips.  First they will seriate the circles (largest to smallest or vice versa).  Then they will sort the rays by size.  And finally they will create pattern of rays around a sun.

This is called the Sequencing Beads with Base from  Here the children are using it for free exploration.  But there are wooden pattern cards that stand behind a dowel.  I was trying to get a good picture of Trent. He was picking up the beads and sticking them on his pointer or thumb and then putting them on the dowel. :-)  Great fine motor for him!
I have so many pictures of Trent with our wooden beads.  It is, by far, one of his favorite toys.  Technically, "he's too young".  Maybe I'll say something about this here.  Definitely it's my opinion.  One of the biggest "lacks" that I hear about, for children entering into Kindergarten, is the lack of fine motor development.  Why?  Number 1 reason: Play is different.  There is less of it and more sitting in front of a TV or computer.  Outdoor play is different...there isn't the climbing of trees, building of forts and so on.  Family chores are different.  Very few children are expected to "help out" anymore, indoors or out.  All of this plays a part in the physical development of our children.  But here's another.  Toys are being labeled with "not for under 3" and "choking hazard".  That has it's place, don't get me wrong.  What's wrong is that often these toys are not brought out for our toddlers or sometimes they aren't ever purchased by parents (who really are trying to do the right thing).  It's good to be cautious but it's also necessary to understand that children need to have supervised play with toys with small parts or they will not develop the muscles needed in their hands to be successful in skills such as writing, scissors and so on.  Toddlers are very much into toys and manipulatives like these.  This is where they are naturally at, developmentally.  So please please please!  Provide supervised opportunities for play like this with your toddlers.  :-)

One last thought about patterning...point out patterns in your child's environment.  They'll soon be pointing them out to you!