Preschool Learning: Pasta Necklace Math Activity

Just like shapes, patterns are everywhere: the petals on a flower, the designs on your drapes, even the crayon marks on your walls! This particular Brain Builder is more than just an exercise in pattern-studying—the result is a cute craft for your kid to show off!
What you need:
• Various kinds of macaroni, penne, ziti, wagon wheels (anything with a hole so you can string it)
• String or yarn
• Paints
• For older children: colored crafting or jewelry beads
• For younger children: If your child is too young to string things together, or if you don't happen to have some macaroni in the house, you can just use colored stacking blocks
How to do it:
• Have your child choose a bunch of differently shaped pasta
• Paint each piece of pasta different colors and let the noodles dry.
• Cut a piece of string long enough to go around your child's head (for a necklace) or waist (for a belt).
• To avoid having the noodles fall off the string, tie a piece of pasta or bead to one end of the string.
• Have your child link the noodles or beads together to create a pattern of colors or shapes.
• For little learners: Easy patterns involve two colors/shapes: red, blue, red, blue
• For advanced & older children: Try creating a pattern that repeats both colors and shapes. More complex patterns involve more variables, such as:
Red, blue, yellow, red, blue, yellow
Red, red, blue, blue, red, red, blue, blue
Red, blue, yellow, green, red, blue, yellow, green.
• When your pattern is complete, attach another noodle to the other end of the string.
• Then tie the ends together for a colorful necklace (or even a belt!) of perfectly patterned craft!
Brain Building Bonus: Start your own necklace, but have your child complete the unfinished pattern. Can she figure out your pattern and continue it? (Or deliberately make errors and have her point them out.) Then see if she can start her own pattern. Can you follow her pattern? How this builds brains: In addition to honing your child's fine motor skills, you'll be helping your child understand that shapes, colors, sounds, letters, or numbers can repeat in a predictable ways. Being comfortable with patterns will pay off when your child goes on to learn addition, skip counting and, yes, those tricky times tables!
Get more brain-building activities for your kid! Check out our Brain Building Boot Camp with Dr. Christine Ricci.

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