5 Patterning Games for Kids
Red. Blue. Red. Blue.
Big. Big. Small. Big. Big. Small.
1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4.
Patterns are everywhere! If you’re looking for a fun way to practice patterns with your kids, give one of these games a try.
- Easy to set up
- Fun to play
- Full of learning
Because learning shouldn’t be complicated!
- 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 (you’ll need at least 2 colors)
- Construction paper
- 1 Paper plate per person
- Paring knife
Cut the potato in half lengthwise for your child.
Pour a small pile of 1 color paint onto one area of the paper plate.
Pour a small pile of a 2nd color of paint onto another area 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.
Have an adult 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.
- 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!)
- White paper
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
- Fuzzy moss, pointy grass, fuzzy moss, pointy grass
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.
- 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
- White Paper
- 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.
Then, have your child build a pattern for you to continue.
Take turns starting and finishing patterns, and when you are finished, have your child put all of the beans and noodles into a Ziploc bag to play with again on another day.
- Lego Patterns
My kids love Legos, so I had to include this one! Have your child gather a pile of Legos 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, and hurries to gather more pieces that are similar to the other pieces selected.
Using those gathered pieces, everyone builds their own pattern.
When everyone is done, compare patterns. Use words such as color, shape, and size as you talk about the patterns.
Talk about the patterns and how similar starting shapes can end up with very different patterns.
Take apart your builds and try again.
- Letter Patterns
This game is perfect for young learners since 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.
Do you have a favorite patterning game for kids? Please share in the comments!
Lisa Tanner is a homeschooling mom of eight. She loves writing about balancing diapers and deadlines, and ways to make learning fun.