Pattern play can be a powerful means to help kids develop their creative thinking skills. Much of innovation in scientific and artistic thought has to do with the ability to see patterns that no one else can see, and in to create new ways to put information together in meaningful patterns. Professionals in all fields use pattern information to, literally, inform their products, works of art and scientific inquiry.
In the Sensory Alphabet, all the elements can be investigated through playing with patterns – RHYTHM is essentially the element of pattern, but all the others can be arranged, patterned and played with using simple scratch tools and new media tools, as well.
For the former, try pattern play with stickers and stick-on dots, stars and the little donut shaped hole reinforcers. Make music and sound patterns with simple instruments and rattles, or for a more sophisticated take, with Garage Band or other software tools. Investigate shape patterns by just arranging patterns of “shapy” objects on a table top, changing them up, and asking a child to recreate the original pattern (a shape/pattern memory game). With movement, play follow the leader with each person adding a motion or gesture to a previous person’s to make a movement pattern. Watch a dance performance on TV and dissect the patterns you see!
If you have added a tablet to your family’s stash of gadgets, there are a number of inexpensive apps that let kids (and adults, too) have fun with pattern making. Here are some of my favorite:
TileDeck— the best of the lot. Amazing tool for making repeating pattern, then changing them around with mirroring and flipping functions.
Kaleidoverse — one of many digital kaleidoscope tools out there
Doodle Dandy— particularly easy for little kids to use
Uberdoodle — an app version of the spiroscope, with gears, pen sizes, and other variables for play