Red. Blue. Red. Blue.
Big. Big. Small. Big. Big. Small.
Patterns are everywhere!
If you’re looking for a fun way to practice patterns with your kids, give one of these games a try. They’re:
- Easy to set up
- Fun to play
- Full of learning
Because learning shouldn’t be complicated!
5 Patterning Games for Kids
1. Potato Stamps
The humble potato provides a perfect stamp when you cut it in half. If you keep your cut plain, you can experiment with color based patterns.
You can also cut a shape into each half of your potato, and use those to create shaped patterns.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 potato per person
Tempera Paint (affiliate link.) you’ll need at least 2 colors.
1 Paper plate per person
Cut the potato in half lengthwise for your child.
Pour a small pile of 1 color paint onto one section of the paper plate.
Pour a small pile of a 2nd color of paint onto another section of the paper plate.
Show your child how to dip one half of the potato into the paint, cut side down.
Let your child stamp the potato onto the paper.
Have your child dip the other half into the second paint color.
After a few minutes of free stamping, make a pattern and ask your child to copy it.
Then, let them make a pattern for you to copy.
Continue experimenting with colored patterns.
Use the paring knife to cut away part of the potato, leaving a raised shape behind. Have your child experiment with stamping, and creating shape patterns.
2. Build a Nature Pattern
Head outside for a nature walk, and let your child gather materials for pattern building. When you get back inside, spread out her finds on a large piece of newspaper. Then it’s time to create.
A variety of items from nature, such as:
- Grass blades
- Small rocks
Digital camera (the one on your smartphone works great!)
After you’ve spread the natural items on the table, encourage your child to look for items she can build a pattern out of. Have her build her pattern on the white paper.
She can make a colored pattern like this:
Something green, something brown, something green, something brown
An item pattern like this:
Rock, flower, grass, rock, flower, grass
A texture pattern like this:
Hard rock, soft flower, hard rock, soft flower
Or any other pattern she can think of. Nature is fun to play with!
Once the pattern is created, have your child take a picture of it. Then, let her shake the items off the paper and begin again.
3. Muffin Cup Patterns
This game is perfect for when you’re cooking dinner. Just set your child up nearby to play while you work. Building patterns with small items will encourage fine motor skills.
A muffin pan (6 or 12 hole)
A variety of beans and small noodles
A quart size Ziploc bag
Set the muffin pan on the counter.
Measure out 1/4 cup of 6 different types of beans or noodles.
Put the beans and noodles in a pile.
Have your child sort them into the muffin holes, with one type of object in each hole.
Once the items are sorted, create a pattern from them on the white paper for your child to continue.
Have your child build a pattern for you to continue.
Have your child put all of the beans and noodles into a Ziploc bag to sort again another day.
4. Lego Patterns
My kids love Legos, so I had to include this one! Have your child gather your Lego collection, and then sit down together to play. This game teaches your children that the same pieces can be used to build a variety of patterns.
Legos in a variety of colors and sizes
Each player secretly picks one Lego brick, and conceals it inside his or her hand.
When everyone is ready, count to 3 aloud.
On 3, everyone reveals their piece by opening his or her hand.
Everyone looks at all the pieces.
Everyone hurries to gather more pieces that are similar to all the pieces selected.
Everyone builds their own pattern out of those similar pieces.
Compare patterns. Use words such as color, shape, and size as you talk about the patterns.
Ask your child if all the patterns ended up the same.
Take apart your builds, and try again.
5. Letter Patterns
This game is perfect for young learners. It practices letter identification.
A dry erase board and marker
A piece of white paper and a marker
Write a letter pattern on the board or paper for your child to continue. You can start with easier patterns, and then make them harder. Here are some examples:
- ELLIEELLIEELLIE (use your child’s name!)
You can create tons of patterns using only letters.
To change things up a bit, alternate turns with your child. Mine always love creating patterns for me to continue.
As You Play
While playing, read the patterns aloud. This will help your child use multiple senses to learn about patterns.