Activities & Patterns

4 Math Patterns Activities for Preschoolers

3 Min Read
July Math Patterns Final

We encounter patterns in many aspects of our lives—in our clothing, in decorating our homes, on our furniture, in mathematical equations and concepts. The list goes on and on.

For your youngest students, learning about patterns can start as early as preschool. To do this, you can use these four fun activities from HMH’s Math Expressions Early Learning Resources program!

Activity: Make Repeating Patterns With Pictures

Each pair of children will need 6 ladybug pictures with spots from this downloadable worksheet and 6 without spots from this downloadable worksheet. In this activity children use pictures of ladybugs to make an AB pattern.

Ask children if they have seen ladybugs outside or have seen pictures of them in books. Tell children that there are many different types of ladybugs; some have spots while others do not. Then, show children how to use the pictures of the ladybugs to make a first, second pattern.

  • I’m going to put the ladybug with spots first, and the one without spots second. Watch as I make my first, second pattern with pictures. (Make 4 repetitions of the repeating unit.)
  • Say the pattern with me: spots, no spots; spots, no spots; spots, no spots; spots, no spots.
  • What is the smallest repeating unit? spots, no spots

Ask children to copy your pattern, say it with you, and then use their pictures to make another pattern different from yours. Most children will make an AB pattern, but some will try ABB or AAB patterns. Explain that children can use the pictures in the Math Center to make ladybug patterns.

Activity: Patterns With Pictures

Give pairs of children 10 pictures of ladybugs with and without spots. Have them recall the activity they completed with the class. Children can make any repeating pattern they like and identify the smallest repeating unit. Possibilities for patterns include AB, AAB, ABB, as well as the more challenging ABBB and AAAB.


Activity: Patterns With Objects and Pictures

Children can use the cubes or pictures to make repeating patterns and identify the smallest repeating unit. Possibilities for patterns include AB, AAB, ABB, as well as the more challenging ABBB and AAAB. Children then can take turns counting the objects of one color or pattern and their partner counts the same color or pattern to check.


Activity: Make Patterns and Count a Color

Pairs of children make repeating patterns (AB, ABB, AAB, or ABC). The first partner counts the number of one color in the pattern, and the second partner checks the count. Children reverse roles to count the other color(s) in the pattern. Children may also arrange their squares or cubes in a circle, and count the number of objects


  • Inch Squares or Inch Cubes (five each of three different colors)


Learn more about HMH's Math Expressions Early Learning Resources program, which helps children make sense of math by exploring, discussing, and demonstrating their understanding of key concepts.

Get our FREE guide "Optimizing the Math Classroom: 6 Best Practices."

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