When preschoolers understand patterns, they can describe them, reproduce them, extend them, fill in missing elements, and create new patterns. This simple snap cube patterns activity guides preschoolers to understand better how to recognize and create patterns in the world around them.
What IS a Pattern?
A child’s world is full of patterns. In nature, the structure of a honeycomb, the arrangement of flower petals, and the regular spacing of spots on a leopard. Manmade items have patterns as well – bricks on a building, stripes on a shirt, and squares on a checkerboard. Patterns are even aural – in rhymes in a poem or beats of a song! Patterns are everywhere!
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Preschool Math Centers include learning about shapes, colors, sorting, patterns, and numbers. This set of 12 centers offers fun, hands-on ways for the youngest students to practice.
Understanding Patterns for Mathematical Proficiency
Children should learn about a variety of patterns. These include:
- Alternating patterns, such as shapes, colors, and musical notes.
- Growing patterns, for example, steps on a staircase.
- Musical patterns, such as “e-i-e-i-o” or a refrain in a song.
- Spatial patterns, like the evenly spaced spaces in a honeycomb or staggered bricks on a wall.
- Language patterns, including rhyming words in a poem or language rules (adding s/es to plural words, for example).
These skills build as students get older and are essential as they learn language rules and advanced math. Thankfully, simple activities like snap cube patterns and grid games lay a strong foundation for young learners to build upon.
Setting up Snap Cube Patterns at the Math Center
There are only a few items needed to set up an engaging math center for practicing patterns.
- Snap cubes in a variety of colors
- Pattern cards
- Trays and small containers (to group cards with the right materials!)
Teaching the center is almost as simple. The teacher merely demonstrates how to select a card, find the appropriate color cubes, and match the pattern. Next, the teacher shows the students how to build on the pattern. The conversation might go something like, “I have red, black, red, black, red…what do you think comes next?”
Start simple, with only two or three colors on a tray. As students’ knowledge progresses, adding more colors and more complex patterns to the center keeps it challenging while providing a familiar setting.
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Want to know more?
Find 60 Snap Cube Patterns cards in this Math Centers resource, along with two other pattern activities. Shapes, numbers, and colors are also included!
There is some fascinating research about the importance of patterns by the Dreme Team at Stanford University.
Read on more ways to teach early math through play with this article from NAEYC. They also have a wonderful list of pattern books for preschoolers as well!