Teaching Pattern Recognition to Your Child: 5 Fun Activities

Teaching pattern recognition to your child is very important for the development of logical and mathematical thinking. Learn more!
Teaching Pattern Recognition to Your Child: 5 Fun Activities
Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 27 June, 2023

Pattern recognition is a fundamental cognitive skill that can help children develop logical thinking and problem-solving skills. By teaching your child to recognize patterns, you’re providing them with a valuable tool for understanding the world around them and fostering their ability to predict, analyze, and classify information.

But does teaching patterns to your child sound repetitive, monotonous, and a bit boring? On the contrary! It’s the key to accessing a world of varied knowledge and learning to organize, recognize, and identify elements.

In addition, while it’s the basis for logical mathematical thinking, it also has a direct link to art and music. Keep reading and you’ll understand the importance of having your child learn pattern recognition and some fun activities to help them do so.

A child holding alphabet magnets.

Why is it important to teach patterns and series to children?

When we talk about series or patterns, we’re referring to identifying certain sequences or common characteristics. That is, it’s about being able to make your child understand that if they see an image with a circle-square-circle, then they can expect that another square will follow.

Some of the benefits of teaching your child to recognize patterns involve the development and exercise of the following skills.

The development of logical and mathematical thinking

Patterns serve as the basis for the development of mathematical skills. Initially, it’ll be basic, eventually becoming more complicated and allowing for more difficult operations such as multiplication.


By recognizing patterns, children are also able to detect when something is “out of the ordinary” or different. Therefore, in an exercise, they can organize elements and letters to follow the course of the series. This way, they’re proactive in making decisions.


Patterns also allow some room for forethought and order. Therefore, by learning them, your child will be able to access information and organize it according to their goal.

The development of other skills and types of thinking

For example, those linked to artistic skills. Series and sequences are also elements that are used as visual resources in artistic creations.


Far from what one may think, teaching pattern recognition to children allows them to understand a certain logic of operation, while helping them to think of different ways of solving, approaching, and arranging, among others.

Finally, logical-mathematical knowledge has great value, as it’s not reduced only to these types of operations, but, on the contrary, it exceeds this area. Beyond counting objects or being able to identify how a series follows, it contributes to a person’s ability to think about all kinds of situations.

How to teach patterns and series to your child?

Pattern recognition starts from smallest to largest, taking into account your child’s age and development. For example, you can first think of sizes (big and small) and objects according to their use (objects used for eating and others used for cleaning), among others. In other words, you start with the AB pattern. An example would be apple-pear.

Here are some practical exercises and activities to keep in mind to stimulate thinking.

1. Complete the series through magnetized figures

Either on a blackboard or on the refrigerator door, you can ask your child to identify the missing shape. For example, “circle-cross-circle-circle-which one is next?” Or, you can draw a complete line and leave an empty space, asking your child to tell you what the missing shape is.

2. Use LEGOS

These toys are known for having pieces of different colors, sizes, and shapes. So, if they’re one of your child’s favorites, you can use them to introduce some pattern ideas. For example, green rectangle, yellow rectangle.

You can also use stickers following the same logic as suggested above, but changing the format. This can be an interesting variation that will keep your child from getting bored of the same game every time.

3. Make bracelets, necklaces, or key chains

Practice patterns through crafts. You can use either noodles of different shapes or beads. Also, you can do it with a specific color sequence or even with letters to teach your child to spell their name. The possibilities are endless!

A baby playing instruments.

4. Create musical and rhythmic patterns!

For example, clap your hands on the table, double clap your hands on the table, clap your hands together, etc. This could become your child’s favorite activity while stimulating their cognitive and emotional development.

5. Make a sequence with playdough

You can do this with colored play dough or by creating play dough shapes. For example, a little ball and an “elongated snake”. Here, you won’t only be teaching your child patterns, you’ll also stimulate the development of their motor skills.

Recommendations for teaching pattern recognition to your child

Beyond the suggested activities, it’s important that you can choose objects that are appropriate for your child’s age, both in weight and size. This way, they’ll be able to manipulate them as they wish. They can be either their toys or household objects (for example, a plate and a cup on it).

It’s also advisable that, in the beginning, you can work with elements that are familiar to them. For example, if they already know some geometric shapes, work the patterns from there as a starting point. This way, learning focuses on “the pattern” and not on learning the name of a new object.

Finally, as patterns appear in many everyday situations, you can take advantage of any scenario to practice them.

Every game has an objective

Every teaching moment – whether informal, like at home, or formal, like school – has its own knowledge objectives. However, sometimes people aren’t fully aware of what different knowledge implies and how important it is to stimulate different types of thinking.

Play is the main way children learn. Therefore, today’s knowledge, perhaps disguised as a playful activity, is the seed of deeper and more complex knowledge tomorrow, hence the importance of offering diversity in the teaching-learning process, especially at an early age.

Sometimes, learning and practicing mathematics – with the identification of patterns as a necessary prelude – becomes tedious. However, it’s a matter of making certain exercises and teachings accessible so as not to discourage or bore your child.

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