Design A Pattern


  • Different-colored manipulatives, such as plastic counting bears or colored blocks, or use household items such as dry penne pasta and dry black beans, or simply cut shapes out of colored construction paper (e.g., red hearts, blue squares)

Prep Time:

  • 5-15 minutes (depending on whether you make your own manipulatives)

Recipe for Fun!

Place the objects in a row in front of the child and arrange them in a regular, repeating AB pattern (such as red heart, blue square, red heart, blue square, etc.). Ask the child to place additional objects at the end of the row in the same repeating AB pattern.


  • Math. AB patterning is a pre-math skill that helps children develop an understanding of order and prediction. Recurring patterns of objects, numbers, letters, or colors (e.g., blue fish, red fish, blue fish, red fish, etc.) are useful in teaching children to recognize, create and continue patterns.
  • Fine motor. Picking up the pieces and placing them in order strengthens pincer grasp, control and release. This helps develop the muscles in the hands and fingers that are needed for daily living skills, such as tooth brushing and writing with a pencil.
  • Basic concepts. Recognizing patterns helps children learn to identify similarities and differences, discover relationships, make predictions, and form generalizations.


For an easier time:

  • Make a row of AB patterning and have the child copy that pattern with more of the same manipulatives.
  • Make a matching worksheet of the objects in the repeating pattern and have the child place the objects on top of it.

For extended challenge:

  • Provide a third set of identical objects to create an ABC pattern (red heart, blue square, yellow triangle, red heart, blue square, yellow triangle, and so on).
  • Introduce more challenging patterns, such as AAB, AABB, and ABB.
  • To strengthen auditory processing skills and working memory, verbally instruct the child to create a specific pattern, without the support of a visual representation.


  • Create patterns with other objects, such as cars and blocks, pinecones and small rocks, forks and spoons, or snacks, like Goldfish crackers and pretzels.
  • Have the child make up a pattern using the manipulatives, and then you recreate it.