Pattern Play

Find out what comes next!

  • Target Age:  3-5 
  • Subject: math, art, music, creative movement, 
  • Related Episode: Candy Counter


simple objects like:

  • blocks
  • silverware
  • coins


Sorting objects and arranging them into patterns helps your child build basic math skills. Try these simple fun activities to help your child understand, identify, and create patterns.

1. Go on a Pattern Hunt: Look for repeating patterns on clothes, rugs, wallpaper, bathroom tiles, and in books and magazines. Talk about each pattern and help your child identify the rule that organizes it. For example, you might say: Look at the square tiles in our bathroom: white, pink, pink, pink; white, pink, pink, pink.

2. Make a Pattern: Using simple objects like those suggested above, create patterns with your child. Chant the pattern as you point to each item in line: fork, spoon; fork, spoon. Pause and ask: What comes next?Encourage your child to create new patterns of her own.

3. Get in the Groove!: Invite your child to copy a simple movement and sound pattern like this one:

tap thighs, clap hands, clap hands
tap thighs, clap hands, clap hands

Let your child create movement patterns for you to copy, too.

4. Play "Guess My Rule": Use movements or some of your objects to create a simple pattern. Let your child guess the rule you used. Then switch, having your child create a pattern using a rule that you have to guess.

Take it Further

Incorporate patterns into your child's arts and crafts time. Try these simple ideas:

  • Use markers, stamps, or stickers to create a lively pattern on a paper headband or greeting card.
  • Glue objects like beads and buttons in a pattern to decorate a picture frame.
  • Make patterned bracelets by stringing colored cereal or pasta on an elastic string, new shoelace, or yarn with a piece of tape wrapped around the tip.

More Ways to Discover and Learn

Look in a Book

  • Zoe's Hats by Sharon Lane Holm
  • Lots and Lots of Zebra Stripes by Stephen R. Swinburne


Find more activities featuring your child’s favorite PBS KIDS character!