Maths games: repeating patterns

repeating patterns

What? Repeating patterns are everywhere: in fabric designs, buildings in your neighbourhood, in the songs that you sing. Any sequence of colours, shapes, actions that repeact twice or more become a repeating pattern.

Why? So what have repeating patterns got to do with your children’s play?  Well, by looking out for patterns and including them in your play you’re giving your child the opportunity to develop important mathematical thinking. Many maths concepts are based on patterns, such as addition, times tables and geometry.

How? Children often make their own patterns as they play with bottle tops or building blocks but here are some ideas you can use to let your child explore repeating patterns:

  • Start off a pattern and see if they can follow. You can use anything: blocks, bottle tops, stickers, fridge magnets.
  • If your children love patterns you can they might enjoy these games just for the satisfaction of making a pattern. You can also sneak them into other creative play too: while we were making some furniture for our dolls house we used some coloured star stickers to decorate the rug we made for the dolls’ sitting room – with a repeating pattern design of course.
  • You don’t have to just use colour to form the pattern – try different shapes, number groups or sizes.
  • Try clapping patterns, going slow, slow, fast, fast, fast – and seeing if you can copy each others rythmn.
  • Make yourself some mathematical jewellry, by threading a repeating pattern of beads or coloured pasta tubes onto a string.
  • Do a full body workout, making repeating patterns of jumping, skipping, clapping and hopping.
  • Go on a pattern hunt when you’re out and about – you might be surprised at just how many repeating patterns are out there and how good your child is at spotting them.

Pre-school maths isn’t just about counting – why not try one of these pattern ideas today?

Add some Fizz, Pop, Bang to your learning!

Take a look at our resources for creative science and math activities.

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  1. says

    This is a great list. I’ve tried to introduce patterning to my son and he’s never been interested in doing it with his toys or with colors. I really like how your list incorporates movement patterns and rhythm patterns. I think he will like that more. He loves things that he can learn through music or movement. I don’t know why I never thought of that, but I didn’t so thanks for getting me thinking!

    • Cathy @ NurtureStore says

      Hi Jackie – I’m really pleased you found this useful. Hope your son enjoys it.

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