Sequencing / Patterns / Classifying

Sequencing starts with 2 steps. Think about how often you are talking to an infant about what you are doing / explaining the sequence of what you are doing. With infants much of their learning revolves around talking with them. We need to make the most of that talking as an educational opportunity. Example: What happens at diapering time for you? I always seem to be talking about the steps as I diaper them. I count the diaper tabs, maybe adding in left and right/first and second. If there are snaps or tabs those get counted. If putting legs into pants or arms into sleeves it’s right/left and one/two. 

With toddlers it’s easier to see sequencing as it seems we are more directly/purposefully engaged with teaching specific steps in a process. 

We also need to think about how we inform children about transitions. Think about those steps in washing hands. Even just our daily routines for snacks, lunch. We need to be intentional in how we inform children about transitions. “After we read a book, we’ll go outside.” You might include some learning about “measurement” here if you add in time.

Infants might surprise you with their ability to sort early on. It starts with them making a choice between items to grab. Anytime we are presented with a choice we are sorting. Then we expand that into sorting with classification. How are things grouped together by their differences or similarities. Be sure when expanding this concept you do both different and similar things.

My program’s lightbox allowed children to explore objects in a different way. Even my youngest learners had fun exploring, sorting and grouping the different loose parts I had available for lightbox play.

Sorting supports children in making sense of what’s happening in their environment. “Let’s put all of the wooden blocks in the bin.” “I’m going to put all of the red cars in a pile.” “Can you put your hat in your cubby?” “Did you find the blue crayon?” 

Sorting with classifying is also the beginning of collecting data. We may not complete graphs, or tally sheets at this young age, but children are processing data. Future graphing becomes easier because of these previous experiences.

When we are talking with children and using descriptive language we are often talking about the different patterns seen in the environment. The ability to recognize, compare, and manipulate patterns is the basis for understanding much of mathematics.

Sensory boxes such as this “Spring garden” box support sorting and patterns.

Matching can also be thought of as another form of comparing similar and different. “The zebra in this book has stripes.” “Your shirt and my pants match. We both have blue on today.” “Who has polka dots on today?” 

With access to art supplies and open ended process projects you never knew when patterns might begin to arise. When they did if was important to decide if you let it ride or expanded the learning.

That’s why it is always important to be observing and approaching setting up learning opportunities with intention considering interests and developmental abilities.

With older toddlers you can expand patterns into ABABAB patterns pretty easily using colored building blocks. Build a tower from two colored blocks. You can handle the blocks, labeling color, counting blocks and talking about the pattern forming. Or a child can copy your tower as you build one in a pattern.

When the snow came my toddlers loved having access to the colored water spray bottles. The building of patterns happened with lots of teamwork. Sometimes the patterns were easy to see with colors. Other times it things like shapes. We also sprayed around stencils.

Next: Block Play

Home page: Bringing Math Forward

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