One of our favorite family fall activities is to go apple picking. This year, we used our apples to help my preschooler practice making patterns, an important pre-math skill that also led to some spontaneous exploration as he moved and played with the apple patterns.
You don't have to go apple picking at an orchard to get your apples. Selecting apples together at the grocery store works just as well. While you choose your apples, you can count them together and search for three different types of apples.
We picked some beautiful red, golden, and green-colored apples and brought them home to learn and play.
I set up a basket of apples, and the first part of a pattern: red/green/red/green (otherwise known as an ABAB pattern).
I asked my preschooler what came next and helped him choose the next red apple. He got the hang of it pretty quickly and completed the pattern until all the apples in the basket were used.
If your child needs some help seeing the pattern, ask questions like "What do you notice about the order of the apples?"
Next, I set up a pattern of red/red/green/red/red/green. This is known as an AAB pattern. I asked my son what he thought came next.
Finally, I gave him apples in this order: red/green/gold/red/green/gold. (You guessed it, this is an ABC pattern.)
He played with the apples for a while, pulling them into a circle, which was a pattern itself. He was quite pleased with himself, and continued to explore (and then eat) the apples.