Forget plaid and paisley. In preschool, the word "pattern" takes on a whole new meaning! Patterning lays the foundation for math and even reading. It's a hefty skill, but it doesn't need to be boring. In this game, kids will put down the beads and the beans (the typical way preschoolers learn patterning) and use their bodies to create patterns.
What You Do:
- Ready to get started? The rules are simple. Body movements can include (but are not limited to) clapping, jumping, wiggling, stepping, snapping, shaking, tapping, and hopping. The point of the game is create a series of movements your child can copy.
- Start by creating a simple pattern and actually doing the movements. (For example, clap, jump, clap, jump…) Keep this going and ask your child to get in on the action. Tell them that whenever they're ready, they should tell you what the pattern is (a clap, jump pattern).
- This is a simple AB pattern. Know the lingo and let your child know it, too. But once they've mastered this pattern, you can mix things up with something a little more complex, such as AAB (jump, jump, clap), ABB (jiggle, hop, hop), or ABC (hop, clap, snap). Continue to challenge your child as he learns more patterns such as AABC or ABBCC.
- To your child, this will likely seem like a hopped up version of Simon Says. But you're laying some important foundations here. Assuming everyone's still having fun, you can move on to another key skill: extending patterns. Basically, this means being able to pick up a pattern where someone else left off. To incorporate it into your game, start a pattern and then stop and see if your child can tell you what comes next. For example: clap, clap, hop, clap, clap, hop, clap, clap, ______?
Once your child has the hang of it, it's time to step aside. Reverse roles and let her make up the movements and try to "stump" you. A parent may be their child's "first teacher", but don't forget: children love to be teachers too!
Sarah Richards has an M.A. in Early Childhood Development and a B.S. in Child Development. She's spent 6 years teaching kindergarten and first grade. Before that, she was a child development specialist for young children with special needs. She has also worked in the preschool classroom.