84. Pattern-making

Making patterns is something many children do instinctively; perhaps your child arranges the cutlery on the table in a pattern while you are cooking or you sometimes find their toy cars are laid out in a pattern on the floor. But why do they do it?

This basic instinct to arrange blocks and shapes by colour or size, to create something greater than the sum of its parts, is a way of exploring early mathematics. Realising that by moving two wooden blocks to the left you create a bigger line than the one on the right is how children begin to understand quantities and ideas of addition and subtraction. It can also be a way of exploring the colour spectrum and ideas of rhythm and repetition.

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