Making AB patterns in preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on December 8, 2010

in Cognitive Development, Mathematics, The Value of Play

As we continue to explore the letter K this week, the children worked on practicing their skills for identifying and making AB patterns…

Introducing patterns first begins with a hands-on type of activity followed by the activity page.

The activity pages we use are usually something I have created on my own computer. They are specifically designed to complement a theme, skill, or process we have been focusing on over time.

Not every child was able to complete this activity page – or at least complete the page as directed – but that was okay. We want to introduce the idea of making patterns in many different ways.

Before having the children attempt to try the activity page. We like to begin by having the children make an AB pattern with something more concrete. For this, we used construction paper bows and a “kite string” piece of yarn.

I missed the photo opportunity of the concrete part of the process so I just took photos of the materials to give you the idea…

Having the children physically manipulate the materials to make their AB patterns is an important step in the process.

The activity page is a nice tool to reinforce the concrete process but it should not be used as the actual tool for teaching the AB pattern concept in preschool.  Some preschoolers who can physically place the bows in an AB pattern will struggle when it comes to using a crayon to color or reproduce the pattern.

If you would like to give this a try, I am including my Kite pattern in this post but don’t forget to cut out some construction paper bows and yarn too! Remember…

If you want me to discover..  then give me materials

If you want me to explore.. then give me opportunity

If you want me to learn..  then give me materials and opportunity

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

1 Alison December 8, 2010 at 9:37 am

Could you explain what pattern would come next? ABBA? ABC? etc .. what order should the variations in patterns be introduced? I have asked several early years educators without any luck!

2 Deborah J. Stewart December 8, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Hi Alison – When it comes to teaching patterns to young children, there are many considerations such as the age of the children and the readiness of each child. I can’t give you a specific order but I can share with you my preference…

I always start with AB patterns. I do not move on from an AB pattern until I can see the children really have a grasp on this idea. With pre-k age children I may eventually introduce ABC patterns but I will not do this until they can easily identify and create AB patterns. Before moving on with ABC, I prefer to go back to AB and try AABB or if the children are really catching on I may then try ABC but I almost never make it any more complicated than this.

For me, the goal is to help preschool age children identify simple patterns in their every day world. Helping them successfully identify simple patterns is more important at this age then to complicate the concept with complex patterns. As the children mature and develop cognitively, they will be more ready to understand and identify more complex patterns.

I would rather my preschool age students explore 100 different AB patterns like Boy-Girl, Clap-Snap, Red-Blue, Short-Tall, Happy-Sad, and learn to see AB patterns throughout their everyday world and environment than try to push them to focus on making complex patterns. Once they begin to see simple patterns without my help – then they will be more ready to understand and explore more complex patterns.

I hope this helps:)

3 Alison December 9, 2010 at 10:08 am

Thank you, such a big help for me!

4 Deborah J. Stewart December 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm


5 Kristi @ Creative Connections for Kids December 9, 2010 at 8:08 am

Thanks for this idea. I am always looking for new ways to teach patterns.

6 Deborah J. Stewart December 9, 2010 at 11:12 pm

You are welcome:)

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