Busy bags are a fantastic way to keep little ones occupied while you need to work with another child for school, take care of a younger sibling or just get some quiet time (is that even possible?) This Christmas patterns busy bag is a fun way for your child to explore patterns while you get some peace and quiet. Plus, it takes less than 5 minutes to put together!
This busy bag can be differentiated to use with a toddler, preschooler or early elementary child with the suggestions below.
Materials for the Christmas Patterning Busy Bag
Paper straws- I got mine in the dollar bin at the craft store…they were actually $1.50)
Pipe cleaners- I included 3, but you could do more if you child can manage it
Red pony beads- use an alternate color to match your straws
One zip top bag
I used a sharp pair of scissors and cut the paper straws three at a time into 1 inch pieces (give or take, I didn’t measure).
Then, I did a demonstration pattern on one of the pipe cleaners and put all of the pieces in the zip top bag.
Pattern sequences you can try:
ABAB (one red bead, one straw, repeat)
ABBA (one red bead, two pieces of straw, one red bead, etc.)
AABB (two red beads, two pieces of straw, repeat)
I know this may seem simple to some, but these patterns are the building blocks for future math skills for things like skip counting, addition and multiplication.
Younger children and those who need help with fine-motor skills which are essential to writing skills, can benefit from this busy bag even before they are able to understand patterns. The hand-eye coordination required to slip one of the beads or straw pieces onto the pipe cleaner is also a great benefit along with using the pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger) to grasp the pieces.
To make it more advanced, include the pictures on the straws as part of the pattern. Our straws had spots and stripes that could be used to make a more complex pattern.
You can also use them as a manipulative for skip counting.
To use for skip counting thread a pattern on such as an ABAB pattern. Then as you count each piece, emphasize skip counting by twos. Whisper ‘one’, loudly say ‘two’, whisper ‘three’, loudly say ‘four, whisper ‘five’ and so on.
With an BBABBA pattern you can skip count by threes by emphasizing 3, 6, 9, 12.
I would love to hear what you use this busy bag to work on! Share your ideas in the comments.
If you loved this busy bag be sure to check out the other Christmas busy bags!