Patterning in Play

It’s common knowledge that we should be reading to our little ones from day one (at least around these parts, we even had a volunteer come to our hospital room after E was born and give us free books. Her job was to encourage parents to begin reading from the start). The goal of this is pretty clear, expose infants to language and reading at a young age and they will be more inclined to be successful readers in the future and have a greater love of books and reading in general. Completely agree, 100%. We’ve read to E from day one and this girl LOVES her books. She doesn’t take a teddy bear or blanket to bed, rather she takes a favorite book. Clearly the “love of books” part is coming to fruition.

There’s another component to reading and language development that you can add into your child’s daily activities from any age as well. Patterning. Language is a code, one that we start learning early on, some claim as early as in utero, so learning to “read” a code, or pattern, can help little ones learn language and reading faster and easier. So….how does one pattern?

A simple pattern of square, circle, square, circle

A simple pattern of square, circle, square, circle










Above is an example of a simple pattern (start simple with infants and toddlers, older toddlers and preschoolers can do more complex patterns). Pick one element of a group of toys, as in shape or color, but not both, and create a pattern. “Read” the pattern together, pointing to each object as you say it. To make this a more complex pattern for older kids, you could do square, circle, circle, triangle, and repeat.

This is a fun activity to do with mixed ages. Older siblings can help make a more complex pattern to “read”, and help to make a simple pattern for their younger sibling.

Here are some ideas of things to pattern with:


Multi colored Play Dough (click here to learn how to make your own)

Toy Cars

Beading/Lacing sets

I recently came across an awesome children’s art display project on one of my favorite blogs Stilettos and Diapers. Check out how she used colored clothes pins to hang the art projects, these would work perfectly to make a color pattern in the playroom, and it’s really cute to boot.

Have fun exploring patterns with your little one!




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