Recognizing patterns is an important pre-math and pre-reading skill for children. Talking about patterns is also a valuable language activity for kids learning Spanish. The word for patterns is secuencias in Spanish.
Secuencias are an easy and fun way to practice vocabulary. There is a lot of repetition and even if the patterns are easy, kids have fun with them. There is also enough language involved that children work with common verbs like seguir (to come next or to follow) and hay (there is) They also use adverbs like primero (first), entonces (then), and después (then) as they talk about patterns.
As an example, if you were speaking Spanish to your child about this simple pattern, these are some of the words and phrases that you could use:
Primero hay un perro. / First, there’s a dog.
Después hay un gato. / Then there is a cat.
Y sigue otro gato. / And another cat comes next.
Entonces hay un perro otra vez y un gato y otro gato. / Then there is a dog again and a cat and another cat.
¿Qué sigue? ¿Un perro o un gato? / What is next? A dog or a cat?
¿Cuál es la siguiente figura? / What is the next figure?
Sí, sigue un perro. ¿Y después? Sí, después un gato. / Yes, next is a dog. And then? Yes, then a cat.
Perro, gato, gato. La secuencia es perro, gato, gato. / Dog, cat, cat. The pattern is dog, cat, cat.
These are some easy ways to use patterns to speak Spanish with children. Make patterns together, make patterns for your child to continue or kids can make patterns for each other or for you.
- Use household objects (plato, tenedor, cuchillo, vaso) to make patterns.
- Make patterns with colors and sizes with blocks or Legos
- Use stickers or rubber stamps to make patterns.
- Draw patterns with simple objects like balloon (el globo), flower (la flor), star (la estrella), moon (la luna), sun (el sol), cloud (la nube) and rainbow (el arco iris).
- Use small crackers of different colors or colored cereal to make patterns before you eat them.
- Make patterns using vocabulary cards or playing cards (for numbers or colors).
- In class, we thread beads of different colors. The kids take turns making a pattern everyone can see using paper cut outs. Everyone strings beads in that pattern and says the colors as they put them on. Then the next child makes a pattern.
- We also make patterns with movements like salto, salto, aplauso, salto, salto, aplauso (jump, jump, clap, jump, jump, clap).
You can easily make your own printable activities with patterns, and there are lots of websites with free activities too. Most of them have little or no written English, so they work well with children learning Spanish. These are a few websites with printable activities:
Kids Learning Station has printable patterns in color and black and white. They are good for colors and shapes.
Kidzone also has activities with shapes, colors and one with pictures.
KidSparkz has lots of printable pattern activities with really great pictures. These are wonderful for reinforcing related vocabulary. The activity sheets are titled What comes next? and there are topics like amphibians, animals, apples, baking, beach, birthday, cars, cows, fall and fruit. Each activity sheet has five patterns related to the theme. Just to give you an idea of the kinds of words you will find in these activities here is the vocabulary for a few of the activities.
What comes next? Beach
la pelota de playa - beach ball
la concha – shell
la cubeta – bucket
la gaviota – sea gull
la niña – girl
la palmera – palm tree
el sol – sun
la sombrilla – beach umbrella
el windsurfista – windsurfer
What comes next? Animals
la cebra – zebra
el cocodrilo – crocodile
el cuervo – crow (or pájaro –bird)
el gato – cat
la jirafa – giraffe
la mariposa – butterfly
la mariquita – ladybug
el pato, el patito – duck
el perro – dog
la serpiente – snake
la tortuga – turtle
What comes next? Fall
la ardilla – squirrel
la calabaza – pumpkin
el girasol – sunflower
la hoja – leaf
el impermeable – raincoat
la lluvia – rain
el balón, la pelota – football
el rastrillo – rake
el árbol – tree
What comes next? Fruit
la fresa – strawberry
las uvas – grapes
limón – lemon
la manzana – apple
la naranja – orange
la pera – pear
la piña – pineapple
los plátanos – bananas