We have enjoyed collecting things around the garden for our hammer pictures, nature pictures and pattern spotting. This activity has a nice maths focus too... it's repeating patterns.
You will need: a selection of items from around the garden. Try to gather 4 or 5 of each thing. We recommend sticks, leaves (different shapes can count as different ones), flowers, a few piles of earth.... You may want a piece of paper and glue to stick the patterns down.
If you have a younger child, start off by showing your child a repeating pattern. 1 leaf, 1 twig, 1 leaf, 1 twig. Explain what it is. Then start a pattern; 1 leaf, 1 flower, 1 leaf... ask them to put the next 3 bits of the pattern into the row. You may need to do this a couple of times. Once you are sure they understand, see if they can spot a mistake in your pattern.
Once they can do this, ask them to create their own repeating patterns. You can extend this buy making more complex repeating patterns (see the picture below). You might want to stick these onto a piece of paper.
If you have an older child, you may want to ask them to explain a repeating pattern. Can they illustrate this by showing you? Repeating patterns can be more complex (see the page below). if you start some more complex patterns, can they complete them? Then ask them to try and catch you out, can they create a complex repeating pattern that you might find hard to finish?
To extend this, you may want to ask them if they can spot any natural repeating patterns in the garden? Tip: a slice of a tree, the teeth on the edge of a leaf, a spiders web...
You will need: leaves (a few different shapes and patterns is helpful, but not essential), crayons, thin paper.
During your walk or in your garden, collect a few leaves of various sizes and shapes. Ideally 4-6. Position the left so it is upside down (botton up with the veins facing you) on a hard, flat surface (like a table). Place the paper over the leaf (if you have a very small child, you may wish to tape the paper down). Using the side of the crayon, rub the crayon very gently over the leaf. Do this over and over again until you see the pattern appearing. Now remove the leaf.
Can you explore? what other interesting patterns can you find in your garden? We found bark rubbings looked really cool, fence panels, big rocks and grasses looked interesting.