Pattern Games

Patterns repeat in a regular way that helps you predict what comes next. Patterns are in song, dance, poetry, art, buildings, nature, and numbers. These materials provide some different ways that children can play with copying, extending, fixing, and creating patterns.

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Formative Assessment: Preschool Math Look Fors



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Pattern books
Playing with Patterns


A-B-A-B-A-A Book of Pattern Play by Brian P. Cleary
This book helps children understand what a pattern is with fun rhyming text and lots of visual illustrations: “It’s sort of an arrangement of colors, shapes, or things, in a way that is predictable as in the row of rings. See the colors? Green, red, gold then green, red, gold green, red. Once you catch on, you can guess exactly what’s ahead.” The end of the book includes skip counting by 2s, 5s, 10s—an idea you can expose them to now and help them be ready for it in kindergarten.  

Pattern Bugs by Trudy Harris
This fun book emphasizes patterns through repeated words and sounds that are complemented by the repeating patterns in the illustrations and around the border of the pages.  There are many patterns that children can identify on each page. They range from patterns by color, by shape, by size, and by number, including combinations of these attributes. You can challenge children to say the pattern name (AB or AAB) when they recognize a pattern. 

Patterns (Math Counts) by Henry Pluckrose
A great book to get children thinking about the patterns they see in the world around them. Each page has a picture of a different pattern found in the world. You can use one or two pages a day and set the book out for children to explore on their own.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
This fun popular book and song can be used to teach pattern, counting backwards, knowing one less, and understanding cardinality. For pattern, you can draw kids attention to the lines of the song that repeat each time and see if they know what changes—there is one less monkey jumping (rather than a growing pattern, it’s a shrinking pattern). To practice the pairs that make 5, you can ask children how many monkeys are not jumping (if 3 are jumping, 2 are not jumping).