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.
We’re getting ready for the Carnival of Junk Play on Friday 3rd December!
What do you think of our riding school? We have stables, jumps, a daisy filled paddock and some prize winning rosettes – and all made for free using re-cycled materials from our beloved making box. B has been off school ill this week and we needed a good ‘sitting down’ activity to keep us busy and cheer us up – and this is what we made. It was a totally spontaneous project, put together after a rummage through the junk box to see what materials we could find.
The base is made from a big piece of cardboard from a packing box, which happened to have a circular shape marked out in the centre which seemed to say ‘paddock’! The jump is made from two Smarties tubes, turned inside out, with a wooden skewer, snapped in half and poked through the tubes to make the cross bars.
The stables are made from tissue boxes, and the one on the end which has proper stable doors is made from a teabag box. We covered them in sugar paper, held in place with sticky tape – as you know we can’t wait for glue to dry when we want to get playing. The prize winning rosettes are made from little gift bows salvaged from some presents, with a ribbon made from sugar paper.
We have a bucket with a pipe-cleaner handle, wool for straw and a biscuit tray cut up and stuck inside each stable to make a feeding trough (there’s probably a proper horsey word for that isn’t there?) The bunting is made from wool, old wrapping paper and held up on wooden skewers. And the paddock was painted with poster paint, sprinkled with a little glitter while it was still wet, and with some daisies (cut from a remnant of edging from my sewing basket) glued on.
Not all our junk models are this grand – L’s boat was very simple, but they both sum up what I love best about junk modelling:
it’s recycled, it costs nothing, it’s creative and it’s makes a toy with lots more play value to it.
Want more happy handmade crafts?
Our Happy Handmade resource is bursting with colourful and imaginative crafts and DIY toys that are designed to add even more colour and creativity to your home. With easy-to-follow tutorials and free patterns and printables, you can read, make, and start playing today! See more of Happy Handmade here.
Here’s a simple Halloween craft – how to make apple print pumpkins.
Do your children help in the kitchen? Last night I had L peeling potatoes and B stirring a sauce, to help me whilst I was making dinner. Having them helping meant it took longer to get the food ready but on nights when we’re not in a hurry I’d really like to get them more involved with the cooking. It was cosy, all pottering in the kitchen together and of course they’re learning important skills which they will take with them as the grow up – and one day use to make my dinner for me!
L who is four managed to peel the potatoes quite well – and we set the rules that she had to be sitting down still while she was holding the peeler, and watching out for her fingers. B who is seven loved being in charge of making the sauce, holding the saucepan handle and stirring gently.
Are your children chefs in the making? What kind of tasks do you get them involved with? Are there any jobs you think they shouldn’t do – at what age would you let them use sharps knives for example? I’d love to hear your ideas – hope you’ll leave a comment.
A thrifty tip for free toys: collect the lids off your milk bottles and jars. Wash them, dry them and give them to your children and see the creative ways they use them. (Make sure you don’t give very small children lids so small they could be a choking hazard.) My girls love them and come up with all sorts of ways to play with them.
1. Be artistic: what pictures can you make?
2. Try some maths: sort the tops into different sizes, working from smallest to largest in a long line.
3. Get classifying & talk about colours: sort the bottle tops into piles of each colour. L is always on the look out for any golden ones!
4. Add in some letters or shapes: Use a permanent marker pen to write letters or shapes onto the lids. Can you spot all the curved letters? Or find all the triangles?
5. Add numbers: and see if you can order the lids in numerical order, or use them to do sums.
6. Role play: Use the lids as money to play shop or as treasure for pirates to find.
Hand them over to you kids and see what they come up with – they always have the best ideas for play.