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How Patterns Help Children Learn About Life

Updated on April 20, 2016
Building with blocks help children understand the concept of patterns through sequencing.
Building with blocks help children understand the concept of patterns through sequencing. | Source

Patterns Are All Around Us

How many patterns do you see in the space around you as your read this article? Many times we look at patterns and do not "see" them. Patterns balance our view of life and add to its beauty. There is a certain symmetrical harmony that comes from understanding how patterns bring a natural order to our lives.

Did you ever count the number of stairs going up or down, count the number of windows in your home, or notice the pattern in your wallpaper? It's all part of our tendency to establish order in our every day lives. If you give a child a box full of paper cups she will make some interesting arrangements with them, but eventually she will most likely stack them into a pyramid. Again, this demonstrates the natural tendency to make sense of every day experiences through patterns.

Patterns help children learn sequencing and to make predictions which leads to mathematical skills, logic structure in algebra, and to establishing order in life. A toddler will sort green blocks from yellow ones as he builds a tower. He begins to notice things repeat in a certain order by size, shape or color. An older preschool child notices slightly more complicated sequencing such as knowing the days of the week, months of the year or odd and even numbering.

Size, shape and color are elements of a pattern.
Size, shape and color are elements of a pattern. | Source
Can you guess what this is?  Bridges have interesting configurations.
Can you guess what this is? Bridges have interesting configurations. | Source

Moving Patterns

Some patterns, such as flowing water, teach creative thinking and help to define the concept.
Some patterns, such as flowing water, teach creative thinking and help to define the concept. | Source

How To Help Your Child Discover Patterns

Children learn best through play and this works very well when you teach a concept such as patterns. As they enjoy the activity, they will understand the sequencing of items and predict "what comes next?"

If your child is of preschool age or below, I would suggest having them sort items before beginning any pattern activity. My mother kept a huge jar of assorted buttons on her dresser. She would often ask my sister and me to pick out a certain color button for her mending of an item. Of course we would enjoy sorting through the different styles, shapes and colors to find it. Little did we know that this was an actual learning activity for us. So, any task or activity you can think of that would make for a fun time can be used to teach patterns.

Once your child has grasped the sorting concept, you can begin to teach simple patterns. In primary school children learn patterns through the use of a variety of tools such as pattern blocks and math cubes. This is all good, but to extend the learning experience at home parents can use items in the home and outdoors to reinforce the importance of patterns and relationships.

Play an upbeat song that has a good basic tempo, such as a march, that your child can clap hands to the beat. Role model how to clap with the beat and encourage your child to follow along. Clap fast, clap slow, vary the claps of fast and slow as you play together. This will help them understand rhythm and pattern. You can also jump to the music in the same manner (fast, slow, jump three times and then stop, etc.) to establish a pattern of jumping.

For preschoolers, another great approach to patterns is to have them stamp shapes or use stickers on a strip of paper. Model the pattern for them and use a simple sequence at first, keeping it to two or three items; for example: apple, pear, banana.

A great introduction to a math pattern concept is to use numbers and ask them to complete the sequence, asking the child what is next? Or, you can have them fill in the blank as a practice in order of alphabet letters. Keep in mind that most preschool children can only recognize numbers to twenty and may need help with letters of the alphabet.


Learning Activity Ideas

Items
Suggested Activity
Note
Blocks
Stack, Sort, Count
 
Socks
Match by size or color
 
Toys
Sort by category: example, trucks, cars, planes
 
Candy
Sort by color, shape, size, flavor
Candy can be used to count.
Beans/Seeds
Sort by type: example, apple,pear, pumpkin
 
Boxes
Stack, sort, size
 
Sequence
Example: count 1, 2, 3, __?___ (ask what comes next)
This can be done orally or with use of items
Sequence
Example: alphabet a, b, c, ?, e. Ask child to fill in the blank.
Use manipulatives of felt, plastic, etc. on table.

Nature's Natural Patterns

Have you ever noticed the ring pattern on tree trunks?
Have you ever noticed the ring pattern on tree trunks? | Source
Flowers have unique designs, they repeat in almost circular fashion.
Flowers have unique designs, they repeat in almost circular fashion. | Source

Nature's Patterns

My favorite method of teaching patterns is to go outdoors. It is great exercise for everyone as well as a natural teaching platform for patterns. I have children bring pencils or crayons and a sturdy piece of paper to draw on. As they explore their surroundings, I ask them to look for patterns around them and to draw what they see. Here are some things you can point out:

  • the brick pattern on a building or home
  • the pattern on the sidewalk or driveway
  • the tree rings
  • the patterns on a leaf
  • the number of petals on flowers
  • the neighborhood house colors, shape, size
  • the shadows of people, trees, buildings

You will be amazed at what they will find! Later, you can talk with them about their discoveries and post them somewhere for added emphasis. Your child will benefit from the activity and learn that nature has some interesting life lessons to teach them through patterns.

I have added a fun exercise below as a practice for adults who may want to test their pattern skills. I use this as an icebreaker in some of my college courses (source: Family Fun Magazine). You can post your answer in the comment section along with any other added insight to this topic.


Fascinating Video On Patterns In Nature!

© 2012 Dianna Mendez

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    • ananceleste profile image

      Anan Celeste 5 years ago from California

      As always very helpful and informative. It brought back good memories of when I was a teacher's assistant 12 years ago. I miss working with babies! Voted up teaches! And sharing there is a couple of friends that work with kids and can use this information too. Blessings dear.

    • profile image

      KatrineDalMonte 5 years ago

      It's a wonderful hub. Learning by play is so much fun. Shapes and patterns are everywhere around us. Our primary school is very good, they do encourage parents to help their children learn by exploring life around us. Thank you.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Thanks for this one teaches;learning through play is a vital part if the first years of school here now also.

      Great idea ;take care and have a wonderful Easter weekend.

      Eddy.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Wonderful hub. My daughter did this in 1st grade. One was very good. The teacher sent it home with the comment that said " This is an amazing work of art!" It is still hanging on our fridge. It has been there forever. The sides are starting to curl, but I don't think we are ever going to take it down.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

      These are great ideas in teaching children to be observant and about math sequences. Excellent hub! Voted up and useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I also miss working with kids because they are so full of life. Thanks for stopping in, leaving your thoughts, and for sharing with others on this hub. You are always a good smile to any day! Be blessed today.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hi Katrine! I think all of us learn better when it has some fun to it, especially children. So glad your kids are given the proper attention, it makes a big difference. Thanks for your support and positive comments. Blessings.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Eddy, playing with your children is always fun and it gives us an excuse to be silly. Thanks for your visit and encouragement. Have a great Easster weekend as well!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Love your kid's artwork and do leave it up because the memories are priceless! Glad to hear your daughter had some valuable teachers in life. Thanks for coming in to visit, Michele. Take care.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Sinea, it is a skill that leads to math comprehension and also helps them establish a sense of life's beauty through order. I am glad you enjoyed the hub, that means much to me, and thanks so much for the votes of support.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love the part about nature's patterns. I was at my best as a teacher when I had the kids outside observing, really observing, all that was around them. It is a wonderful lesson and this is a wonderful hub. Great job my friend!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I agree with you on that one,Billybuc, the great outdoors is a wonderful teacher. It is so theraputic for everyone to get out into the fresh air and breathe. Thanks for the support and encouragement. You are always a welcome visit.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      You are very very good. It is amazing how you find ways and means to make a topic interesting and fun to learn. Great hub, interesting and informative. Voted up. Loved the video.

    • anndavis25 profile image

      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Six...Fun stuff.

      If patterns influence our feeling of areas and things, then is there something to Feng Shui in our homes?

      I bet you are a fun and sensitive teacher. This is an informative well presented hub. If I were a teacher, I'd give you a star...but I'll settle for up and across.

      Have a blessed Easter. Ann

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your hub is very useful. You break down the idea of patterns and the way children learn very well. I like that your mom had you learning with buttons and you didn't even know it! Learning works best when it is a fun activity :)

    • profile image

      samnang222 5 years ago

      great hub I like it teach12345, it is very special to learn from your hub as I am learning and searching for how to raise children, very useful

    • HawaiiHeart profile image

      HawaiiHeart 5 years ago from Hawaii

      My son's teacher often implements patterns into their homework. Never thought about finding patterns in nature. Great info.!

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Vellur, you are so encouraging and I so much value your comments. I only write as I am led. Like you, it is my passion. Yes, the video was so interesting. Thanks for the sweet visit and the vote of support.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hi ann! Love your visits and your "fun" views on life. Patterns influence as they do establish order in our lives. It's a form of balance that the creator has established to make keep things in check. Thanks for the votes of support and the star! Happy Easter!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hey, Christy. My mom had fun ways of teaching us simple lessons. I remember sorting all the different socks for her on laundry day. Having ten people in a family requires team work! Thanks for your observations and comments. Keep safe and well.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Glad to give you some helpful information, samnang222. Your visit is a welcome presence. Have a great weekend.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello HawaiiHeart! Your son has a great teacher to use patterns to teach valuable lessons. Yes, take a walk around the home and outside and see how many you can find -- it's amazing. Thanks for the stop in and the comment. Have a great weekend!

    • Blawger profile image

      Bahin Ameri 5 years ago from California

      Another great hub teaches12345! Reading this hub totally takes me back to pre-k. I have distinct memories of looking for nature's patterns with my science teacher Mrs. Faye. We went to the playground to look for leaves and pine cones with unique patterns. My class loved this project and more importantly, we learned while having fun.

    • teaches12345 profile image
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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      That is the best kind of education anyone can get, a field trip outdoors as a classroom environment. Glad you found the hub interesting. Thanks for your visit, Blawger, I appreciate your comments. Have a great weekend!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Thanks for the great hub! I've never thought about using patterns in nature to teach kids about shapes etc. voted up and useful!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am glad the hub gave you some new information to consider in teaching children. It is a change from the usual classroom setting and it helps to keep the children interested in learning. Your visit is most welcome and appreciated. Thanks very much, Kelly, for the votes of support. Enjoy your evening.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      I agree teaches12345...visuals sure make an impact on the child's learning.

      loved your informative hub. voted up and sharing it!

    • pipmistress profile image

      pipmistress 5 years ago from Qatar

      Great hub and voted up! may i know the answer to the pattern? I spent 5 minutes looking at the pattern but i can't arrive on a possible answer.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 years ago

      You have some wonderful and important information here. I am going to share your ideas with my children.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Great insight, Ruchira. Yes, visual learners need the added learning through being able to see the process. Thanks for visiting and the votes of support. I am glad you stopped in for a visit.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello Pipmistress! Wow, You are the first who has mentioned this, so I will gladly tell you. Don't want you to spend important time on this one. It is a pattern that calls for the next number in the seqence. They are mirrored images of the numbers 1 through 5, the next one would be six. Glad you came in for a look and thanks for the support! :)

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hi breakfastpop, thanks for taking time to come in and read the hub. Your presence here is welcome and appreciated. I hope it helps your family, they will enjoy the challege (especially the last pattern puzzle). I just posted the answer under Pipmistress's comment. Have a great weekend - see you at the inn, my friend!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      First time I have seen the Fun Exercise. I would hazard a guess that the solution (6) is easier for children who already know their numbers than for adults. Do you have any research, teaches, on that number? Just wonderin'.

      I use an exercise called Which Way is the Bus Going? and kids in kindergarten have no problem with it. Adults do. Thanks for this interesting hub.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I do not have the specifics on this, but I would guess that they would figure it out quicker than adults. Among my adult students, the IT and Computer students figure out first, and some with little effort. It's fun to see people try to figure it out though. They usually think it's some kind of symbol or art. Glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for visiting. Have a good week!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      What an awesome Hub! Patterning is an important concept. You reveal that so well, relating it to both math and nature. Awesome photos! Voted up and awesome!

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 5 years ago

      Patterns are awesome and as you pointed out, there are everywhere. I'm always amazed at how nature is such a showcase of patterns. It just goes to show there is definitely a Creator. Thanks for sharing this awesome hub and voted up.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Rebecca, patterning is a fun concept to learn and I hope that parents will find it a good way to help their child acquire early math skills. Thanks for the vote up and comment. Have a great day!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello, Anglnwu! Yes, patterns show us that someone has set a certain order in nature to remind us of Him. Great insight and add on to the hub. I am so glad you stopped in to visit. Enjoy your life walk today!

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 5 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for an eye opening hub. I can see how directing children to see the patterns all around them will teach them to be observant and hopefully notice details too.

      It is a wonderful world our creator God has made. Such beauty and order all around us.

      As I have read my first hub by you I am being drawn into your writing style. Great Hub! Children need teachers like you.

      Voted up, beautiful and Useful.

      God Bless YOU!

      Mekenzie

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello, Mekenzie. It is amazine how patterns help us see that there is a purpose to everything and an established order that balances life. I could get into some really deep spiriutal insight here, but I will simply say that it is the design of the universe and beyond. Thanks for your visit and for the supportive votes. May God bless you and may your life be patterned step by step.

    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      "Patterns help children learn sequencing and to make predictions which leads to mathematical skills, logic structure in algebra, and to establishing order in life." - Absolutely agree! In fact, I just read this morning an article about a large-scale scientific study in a country in Europe that concluded that lack of math skills can lead to crimes, poverty, and even long-term sickness. Whew! It is just so important to help kids learn basic math. Voting this hub up and useful! :)

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I would enjoy reading that study some time. This is one reason I enjoy hubpages, hubbers are so positive and supportive of your writing. Thank you for the feedback and added insight to this subject. You are such a great friend. Blessings!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      I hadn't thought about patterns as a teaching until my daughter went to preschool. It certainly explained why I found things with patterns in them fascinating! I too looked at that puzzle for quite a while. Thanks for the answer. I didn't even notice the numbers!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am glad you tried the puzzle, it is a fun challenge. I didn't get it the first time either, had to cheat. Patterns are a good way to teach preschool children early math and art skills. Thank you for visiting and glad you enjoyed the hub. Be well and safe.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Is there any particular age that learning about patterns should start and what age is this activity most useful? Voting this Up and Useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I believe infants can be stimulated by patterns. There are a few infant books made in black and white for this purpose. I used these with my grandchild, it was interesting to see his excited reaction to the pages. If taught early on, you should see a natural progression of pattern recognition. The proof is the ability to understand mathmatical concepts easier in primary school. I would say that Kindergarten is when patterns are used to teacher higher critical thinking skills such as this. Great question and insight to the hub. I may have to follow with this idea to the patterning concept. Thanks for your visit, Alocsin, you always bring great insight to the hubs. Take care.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

      Great hub! I love looking for patterns around me and so do my kids. Not only is it important in teaching math skills but it also plays a role in reading. Recognizing patterns in words, sentences and in stories all contribute to being a successful reader. Very important topic, thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Many thanks, Cardelean, for your support of the topic and your insight on patterns and reading. It is fun to look for patterns around you and there are so many that go unseen. Have a wonderful evening.

    • Skarlet profile image

      Skarlet 5 years ago from California

      This is absolutely great! Is it alright with you if I print it?

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello, Skarlet, nice to see you here. I am grateful for your support. Yes, it is fine to print -- I am honored by your interest. Enjoy the weekend.

    • leahlefler profile image

      leahlefler 5 years ago from Western New York

      Six! The next pattern is a mirror image six! Took me forever to see it, but I finally did. Patterns are so important for critical thinking skills and future math concepts - my four year old likes to place his matchbox cars in a line and repeat an A/B/A/B pattern (yellow car, red car, yellow car, red car). The most hilarious thing is that he says, "Wook, Mommmy - I made an AB pattern!"

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      teaches - patterns are definitely a precursor to reading and math - and the more fun you have while learning the more learning that will occur...I try to add some form of fun in everything I teach...great hub!

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 5 years ago from Canada

      Teaches, great hub! I love your concept that patterns are a part of life that children need to know better understand the world around them. Wonderful concept and reinforces the idea that learning should come out of real life. Very well done and I am sharing this. Voted up and more!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      You have me laughing, Leah! Yes, six is right. It's amazing how this simple pattern throws people off. I myself didn't get it at first. Wow, that's a pretty smart little four year old! Great work, mommy. Thanks for sharing on how patterns work for your child and for your support. Have a great weekend.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      From reading your hubs, I know that you must have some amazing ways to teach patterns. Thanks for visiting and for added insight to the topic. Enjoy your weekend.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Hello, Prairieprincess!Oh, I like your added contribution to the hub - learning should come out of real life. Thanks for stopping in, for your comments and the votes of support. Be well and safe.

    • Bedbugabscond profile image

      Melody Trent 5 years ago from United States

      I was talking to my biology teacher who has a Masters in Biology and Bachelors in psychology. He was telling me how pattern recognition builds more connections within the brain.

      I never realized how important it was until I wan an adult. I never really thought about its importance with kids! I am going to use these tips with my 4 year old for sure! Thanks!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Bedbug, I am happy to have you here on the hub. Thanks for the added insight on patterns helping to develop the brain. It's such a basic concept but leads to deeper understanding of life. Glad you found it useful. Take care and be safe.

    • urmilashukla23 profile image

      Urmila 4 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      I like the clap and music ideas to understand rhythm and pattern.

      You are an awesome teacher/writer. Well written hub. Voted up and useful!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Urmilashukla, when I taught patterns it was fun to see them clap along in rhythm. It does help to learn this skill. It was nice to see you here and I thank you for your support of the hub. Be safe and well.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Such a neat hub on how learning about patterns help children! The comments show how helpful it has already been to some and I expect it will continue to be useful to parents and educators. Super job with this hub--thanks for sharing the expertise you've gained from your education and experience so others can benefit! Voted up, up, up!

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Rtalloni, thanks for your visit and support. Patterns are fun to teach as the types vary and children love to spot them as they go about in life. Take care out there.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I'll just bet that you are a natural born teacher! Your students as well as (now) your grandkids must love your imaginative way of teaching. Things in nature offer so many good examples of patterns as you have shown in your photos. What a fun way to demonstrate that! Voted up and useful.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Very great insight teaches. Very useful hub.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Thank you, Peggy, for your supportive views and comment on the topic. You are most encouraging to me. Teaching from nature is so much more fun for everyone and it makes a lasting impression. Take care and be safe.

      Unknown spy, thank you for coming by here to read the topic. Have a good day.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      It never occurred to me to point out the patterns outside, such as bricks, to facilitate a child's education. What a great idea. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      If you look around, there's fascinating patterns in everything. Thanks for the votes of support, Alocsin.

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image

      Joshua Patrick 4 years ago from Texas

      Another great read, teaches. I never really thought about it, but we really do strive to find patterns, and therefore order, in our every day lives.

    • Dr Pooja profile image

      Dr Pooja 4 years ago

      I often play with my son (2.5yrs) and he loves blocks and uses calendar to count but never realized the importance of patterns.After this hub I will encourage him more.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Great idea! Pattern is really important and teaching the kids to understand it is a great challenge for teachers. Your techniques are some of the examples that makes a student learn and appreciate the beauty of pattern. They can apply pattern as they progress in learning. Thanks teaches12345 for the information very useful.

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Goforthejuggler, thanks again for your support. You are certainly loyal and a great encouragement to me. Yes, we do seek out order in life and patterns exist in every phase of our life. It's how we balance our view and application that matters.

      Dr Pooja, glad you got something from reading the hub. Great job in encouraging your son to think critically through play. Enjoy your day!

      Ignugent, you are welcome. I am thankful for your support. Patterns are daily reminders of how we need balance in our lives.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      It really is a lot of fun to spend time outdoors helping children discover patterns. Now that I'm on Pinterest I'm slowly revisiting hubs that need pinning…thanks again. :)

    • teaches12345 profile image
      Author

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      Rtalloni, it's fun to help kids see the patterns nature creates outdoors. Thanks for your visit and great support. Hope your day is going well.

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