As part of the “Winter Wonderland” theme from Mother Goose Time, we used our counting and pattern recognition skills to build a pretend forest. Play dough, Popsicle sticks, and tree cutouts combined to let us create our very own table top math adventure.
You can play too!
Below is a list of the supplies we used and suggestions for set up and play.
As a busy Mom of three, soon to be four, I love having our preschool, monthly thematic supplies shipped to us from Mother Goose Time. If Mother Goose Time isn’t part of your preschool program yet, you could easily create substitute materials for this activity.
- triangle cutouts*
- craft sticks*
- pattern strips*
- play dough
*These materials were supplied by Mother Goose Time.
Tape or glue the different sized triangles onto the sticks to create trees.
Set out play dough to plant the sticks in.
It amazes me how much my kids get out of helping me set up and prepare for the activities. For this set up, the kids used tape (a favorite material) to attach the triangle trees to the Popsicle sticks. Giving them the chance to participate in the set up does mean that occasionally some materials go to waste, but it’s so worth it, because the kids fine motor skills develop just as much if not more from assembly projects like this as they do from the actual published activity. Plus as an added bonus the kids are super proud of being able to help Mommy!
Roll play dough into balls or a mountain.
Copy a pattern strip (or create a pattern) and stick the trees in the play dough.
There are certainly some downsides to play dough. Keeping it out of little mouths and off the floor where it can grind into the carpet can be a challenge. Trays like the ones shown in these photographs can help immensely. I’m one of those Moms that prefers play dough be used outside, but when foul weather strikes it can be worth the mess. Play dough is an amazing sensory experience and the kids can spend hours playing and creating. The purpose of this activity was counting and pattern recognition. Incorporating the play dough kept the activity exciting and repeatable for a couple of hours.
Which patterns could the child copy from the pattern strips?
Did the child play the pattern game or invent his own way to play with the trees and play dough?
One of the many advantages to simple activities like this one from Mother Goose Time is that children learn from play. One of the best ways to practice a skill and retain that skill is through enjoyable play. The play can take several different forms. Some play mirrors the suggested activities and some reflects the kid’s imagination when they are given time to explore the materials.
All three of my children (ages two to five) were able to enjoy this activity.
My two year old spent most of his time squishing play dough and sticking craft sticks into the dough to make patterns.
My four year old, shown in the photographs above did the activity almost exactly as described and then made his own rules.
After completing one pattern strip, my five year old started off with her own rules. She cut her strips apart and then re-taped them to make different patterns. She also added other elements like tracks in the play dough that appeared between the stick trees. She also created play dough people and developed a story to go along with her play dough forest.
Overall, this activity was a win!
The image below is perfect for pinning for later.