There are so many fun things to find in nature in every season, this activity works with or without snow on the ground! We took our own winterkids outside to have fun identifying nature patterns on a recent family trip to Northern California…

Overview:

Enjoy some time together outside while working on identifying patterns and creating patterns with natural objects. This activity is great for preschool to 2nd-grade level, for either introducing the concept of patterns or for practicing and reinforcing understanding of patterns. 

Supplies:

Little baskets to collect nature items

How To:

01


Collect a variety of nature items, together!

Leaves Up Close WinterKids Nature Patterns
  • Remind children to respect nature by only collecting items off of the ground and not pick anything that is still growing on a plant.
  • Find at least four of each type of item so that they have enough to work with while making their patterns.
Collecting Nature Items 1 WinterKids Nature Patterns

02

Model how to make a pattern with some of the nature items you’ve collected.

  • Ask your children to help you identify the pattern.
  • We started simple with: green leaf – brown leaf – green leaf – brown leaf – green leaf…
Collecting Nature Items 6 WinterKids Nature Patterns
Collecting Nature Items 8 WinterKids Nature Patterns

03


Together, create a new pattern.

  • We made: leaf – leaf – rock – leaf – leaf – rock – leaf – leaf – rock
Collecting Nature Items 10 WinterKids Nature Patterns
Collecting Nature Items 9 WinterKids Nature Patterns

04


Invite children to make a pattern with the items they’ve collected.

  • Ask them to explain their pattern to you.
  • As they “read” the pattern out loud – help children feel / hear the rhythm of the pattern.
  • Be sure to help them spot any mistakes in their patterns and guide them to correct the pattern.

Pattern: rock – pine cone – leaf – rock – pine cone – leaf


05


Make more patterns! Invite children to change their pattern to make a new pattern, or make an entirely new pattern nearby.

Pattern:  leaf – leaf – stick – leaf – leaf – stick – leaf – leaf – stick

Pattern:  brown – yellow – green – brown – yellow – green – brown – yellow – green


Extras

  • Ask children to identify the sequence that is repeated throughout the pattern. Use a stick to circle the sequence.
  • Another way to make patterns outdoors is to create moving patterns! For example: 
    march – hop – run – march – hop – run!
Collecting Nature Items 23 WinterKids Nature Patterns

Enjoy!


Additional Tips:

  • Patterns can be based on colors, shapes, types of items, etc. The possibilities are endless!
  • Remind children to “take nothing, leave nothing”, be cautious of poisonous plants, and be mindful of others nearby.
  • Nature items collected should go back into the same nature area when activity is over.

Learn! Explore! Move!

Inspired by:

WinterKids Guide to Outdoor Active Learning (GOAL) Elementary Edition:
“Cool Patterns” Mathematics 6.1 – 6.2

Maine Preschool GOAL winterkids
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