Learning Patterns with Lego

Apr 13, 2013

Welcome back to the "Playful Maths" weekly series brought to you by

Together, let's make MATHS FUN!


Last week I shared Block Maths for Kids.

This week we bring you another 2 Playful Maths Activities using LEGO (or Duplo) Blocks. 

We have used LEGO DUPLO blocks here as with a toddler in the house, this is the current block stage we're up to. When he's a bit older we will start providing the smaller LEGO blocks as well. You can just use what you have available.

This week we are focusing on learning patterns.
Other skills involved include fine motor, counting, colours, sizes etc.

Ages: 3+ (Maddie is currently 4)
(See the Handy Tips at the bottom to simplify or extend to meet your child's needs)

Materials: Lego (or Duplo). 
We also used some duplo playmats to help keep the patterns in place. This is optional.

To begin the experience I made a simple pattern and asked her to find the missing piece.

We tried a slightly different but still simple pattern, using just 2 elements for her to continue. 
I encouraged her to "read" the pattern to me and say it out loud so that she could hear the pattern repeating as well as seeing it.

She continued the patterns as far as our blocks would allow

The simple patterns with repeating colours were visually easy for her to spot and figure out.
Here we looked at how even with no discernible colour pattern, there was still a repetitive sequence.
Reading the pattern out loud and using the language, "large, small, large, small.. " allowed her to look past the randomness of the colours.

We extended the pattern making with 3 elements and this was no trouble for my daughter.

Once she'd established that patterns aren't just repetitive colour combinations, even a slightly more complex pattern like this was no issues.

maths for kids, learning patterns, lego activity, lego learning, duplo learning, duplo activity
"Invitation to Complete the Pattern"

She dived right into the invitation to complete the pattern

Watching your child fill with pride over an accomplishment is one of the most joyful things to watch. It's a pretty special feeling to be part of hence why teaching your child is a reward not only to them, but to you as well.
(She was doing a happy dance here because she completed all the patterns and was so pleased and proud of herself)

lego activity, duplo activity, lego maths
Completed Patterns

Once I was confident that she understood the concept of patterns having repetitive elements I asked her to create some patterns of her own.

She got very complacent reading the pattern from left to right. When she ran out of space to the right I asked her to continue the pattern to the left.

Going in the opposite direction posed another challenge for her momentarily. We talked about which colour came before a certain colour and looked at reading the pattern from the opposite direction to double check if the pattern was still working.

And then, she discovered that patterns could go any way. Even up!

Handy Tips

- Simplify this activity by only providing very basic block options. Stick to one type (ie, the small square blocks) and 2 different colours. When you're confident your child understands the concept, try introducing another colour or different sized block.

- Extend this activity by:
  •  introducing other block varieties and options
  • having your child reproduce their patterns on paper
  • challenging children to build patterns that include different elements in the one pattern including colours, sizes and shapes.
  • having peers begin patterns for one another and then swap to complete a friend's pattern

- Mix it up by making a "complete the pattern race" and timing children to see how quickly they can identify and source the missing pattern pieces. Do they get quicker with more practice? 

- Use the mathematical language that goes naturally with this activity, such as colours, pattern, repeat, repetitive, larger, smaller etc.

- Have you see the rest of the Playful Maths series from us and The Imagination Tree?
Below are some of our previous posts using various everyday materials. 

Playful Maths with Blocks
(Click the pictures to go to the post)
Estimating for Kids, Estimation Activity, Sorting Activity, Colour Activity, Color Activity, Counting Activity   3D shape structures math activity

Playful Maths with Pipe Cleaners
(Click the pictures to go to the post)
   number bead math game

Playful Maths Bottle Top Activities
(click the pictures to go to the posts)

Playful Maths Plastic Bottle Activities
(click the pictures to go to the posts)
   measuring activity, measuring for kids, rice play, sensory play, maths for kids, fun maths, hands-on maths  

Playful Maths Paper Tube Activities
(click on the pictures to go to the posts)
  maths for kids, fun maths, numeracy, maths activity

Playful Maths Egg Carton Activities
(click on the pictures to go to the posts)

Don't forget to join us next week where we're bringing you more Playful Maths activities.

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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