Patterning is a great learning skill for preschool children to learn.  It can help develop both reading and math and science skills.  Learning to see patterns, likes and differences and things that go together are all helping young children develop the brain connections needed to solve problems.

When teaching young children to see patterns, we typically start by placing like and different objects in a line.  Then we repeat the sequence.  Then we ask the child to also repeat the sequence.


We set out two blue poker chips and then one white chip.
Then we repeat the sequence; two blue chips and one white chip.
Finally we ask the child to continue the sequence.  He should set out two blue chips and one white.

We can use small toys, poker chips, paper strips, nuts, beads, silverware.  Here are a few more examples of Patterning exercises or games.


  • Cut out 1” x 3” paper strips in two or three colors.
  • Give your child some of the strips and yourself some.
  • Ask your child to set out two strips of the same color; then two of a different color, in a line.
  • Now, using your strips, repeat your child’s pattern.
  • Now you start a pattern, and have your child repeat your pattern.
  • Continue making more and more difficult patterns, using more colors.

A fun activity for the Fall is to do some nut patterning.  Be sure to use large shelled nuts.

  • Set out two or three piles of nuts.
  • Create a pattern using the nuts.  Perhaps Three walnuts; one almond; and two pecans.
  • Ask your child to create an identical string of nuts below your nuts.

A fun sewing exercise is to do patterning with beads.

  • String a pattern of beads on some string;  such as, one red, one blue, one red, one blue, etc.
  • Give your child some red and blue beads and some yarn with tape on one end to act as a needle.
  • Then, have her string her beads like your example.


  •  Set out two place mats, side by side.
  • Place a plate in the center of one of the placemats and then place a fork on the left of the plate and a knife and spoon on the right of the plate.
  • Set out another place setting and ask your child to arrange them like you did.