Patterns & Skip Counting with Play Dough

After a very busy couple weeks, we are back on track with our play dough fun! This activity is so easy to set up and it was a real eye-opener for my 1st grader that I’m sure we’ll be repeating it soon with a brand new theme. It’s always fun to work on patterns & skip counting with play dough!

red play dough with hearts

Now, Jaida has been able to skip count by 2s, 5s, and 10s for some while now. In fact we learn them by making up silly little songs, so it’s more of a play thing than a learning thing. The downside to that is that the songs lack the hands-on practice that helps kids to actually understand the things they are memorizing.

Even a child with strong mathematical understanding like Jaida needs hands-on activities to help them comprehend the concepts they are learning.

So today we got out our strawberry-scented play dough (we used the Jell-O play dough recipe here) and these super cute heart cupcake toppers that we found at the craft store. I was super happy with these particular toppers because they only had two designs on them. Some other packs have multiple designs, that would be great for building patterns, but not as great for working on skip counting as the designs could become distracting.

When Valentine’s Day is done, you can simply substitute a different theme.

I had Jaida roll out a long play dough snake which was great for fine-motor skills. While she has rather good fine-motor skills, it’s always good to continue to work with them. We had used some tiny clothespins earlier today and she was having difficulty, so this was a way to get her to practice without so much frustration. making patterns in play dough

We started out with an ABAB pattern. I told Jaida that we would be counting by 2s and she was a bit confused on how it was possible to skip count by building a pattern.

Once I demonstrated by pointing to the hearts as I counted, 1 (quiet), 2 (normal), 3 (quiet), 4 (normal), she recognized the numerical pattern and jumped right in to continue the pattern as far as she had room.

After I asked her which numbers were even and which were odd (a concept we haven’t worked on yet), she of course didn’t know the answer, so we talked about skip counting by 2 starting at 1. 1, 3, 5, 7

She was intrigued when I told her that we could skip count by 3s as well. Mostly she didn’t believe me.

So we built an AABAAB pattern and counted it out using the same method as before: 1(quiet), 2(quiet), 3(normal).

heart pattern in play dough

And we finished by skip counting by 5s.

making patterns in play dough

This would be a great activity to pair with one of our pattern printables or busy bags for some independent pattern practice.

This heart pattern free printable for Valentine's Day is such a fun way to practice patterns!winter-patterns-squareThis patterning busy bag for Christmas will keep your little one busy while they build fine-motor skills and learn vital math skills! Suggestions for using with toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners make this a great pack to make for multiple children.Get this free transportation themed free printable for pattern making and have fun learning with bicycles and hot air balloons!

These S'mores patterns are a fun way to practice patterning concepts for preschoolers.apple pattern free printablewinter patterns squareMaterials needed: Pipe cleaner 1-2 sets of miniature lights (we just used the same Christmas lights for each activity.)

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One Comment

  1. This is so adorable! I am definitely pinning this to do with my kids. I could easily make small tweaks to have it applicable to any holiday, too! I’m so glad I found it at From House to Home Link Party. When you get time, I’d love for you to come check out my corner of the blogosphere at http://fearfultofearlessblog.com