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!

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