One of the basic building blocks of math for children is their ability to recognize, continue and create patterns. This simple busy box makes for great STEM preschool activities, perfect for Fall, creating patterns with different color apples.
Making Patterns with Seasonal Stickers
Preschoolers are naturally hardwired to notice the world around them, discern differences and observe patterns, be they naturally occurring in nature or manufactured patterns in clothing or prints. Recognizing patterns is an early math skill you can use to create countless STEM preschool activities. You can create patterns with almost anything – using any number of math manipulatives – one of our favorites is stickers!
Apple Pattern Book
I found these apple stickers last year in the Target $1 Spot – they are a great size for this patterning activity, while also providing a fun fine motor challenge too. For our Apple Pattern activity, I created a book of patterns for my preschoolers to identify the pattern, repeat it, extend it and recreate it, both on paper with stickers and with apple manipulatives.
Cost: Less than $20
Prep Time: 30 minutes (plus dry time)
Clean Up Time: Less than 5 minutes
First, I picked up two bags of decorative apples from the floral section of the craft store – one bag of green and one bag of red. I took 5 apples from each bag and spray painted them yellow to add a third color to our manipulative assortment. Had I discovered these Learning Resources Attribute Apples first, I probably would have just bought a set, instead of making my own!
Then, I cut one piece of cardstock in half horizontally, and then into 1 1/2 inch strips. I punched a hole in each strip, and fastened the strips together to create a quick and easy pattern book. I used the small apple stickers to start a pattern on each card.
Patterning for Preschool
My 4 year old caught on quickly. She was able to 1) identify the patterns, 2) replicate it with the apples, 3) replicate it with the stickers, and 4) extend it.
My 3 year old, however, was frustrated by the small stickers. I supplied her with dot markers instead, and she happily played with apples and created her own art, while my older daughter patterned away.
Signs of Concept Mastery
The best thing about sharing an activity with the girls together is seeing my 4 year old help her younger sister when she struggles. It also further reinforces the concept for her when she repeats and teaches what she has learned to her sister.
I loved when during this activity, my 4 year old even recognized an entirely different pattern – in the sticker sheet itself.
Look, Mom… half, whole, half, whole!
STEM Preschool Activities for All Seasons
While this apple version is great for the first days of school and early Fall, you can easily replicate this simple math activity for preschool with mini stickers and manipulatives for any occasion. Here are some more great sticker sets for patterning.
For more inexpensive math manipulative ideas, you might also enjoy Teaching Place Value with Pasta and 50+ Affordable Math Manipulatives. We also love this fun idea with stickers for younger toddlers, Sticker Line Up, from Busy Toddler. You can find all of these, and countless others, on my STEM for Kids – Math board on Pinterest.
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