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Can You Match This?

Read more about math activities for young children. Help them understand patterns that correspond with the activity Can You Match This?

Activity 20: Matching patterns


Egg carton or ice cube tray and cotton balls, checkers, or game pieces for sorting

Try It Out:

  1. Set the carton between you and your child so that you each have a row of empty egg carton cups in front of you.
  2. Say, “Watch me make a pattern in my row.” Place 1 cotton ball in the first cup, 2 cotton balls in the second cup, and 1 cotton ball in the third cup, to make a 1-2-1 pattern. Count out loud as you place them.
  3. Say, “Now, it’s your turn to play. Can you put 1 cotton ball in your cup? Let’s count: 1.” Then say, “Can you put 2 cotton balls in this cup? Let’s count them: 1, 2. Now put 1 cotton ball in this cup Let’s count: 1.”
  4. Say, “Look, your cups match my cups.” Point to each cup and then your child’s matching cup, 1 at a time, counting as you go.

Making the Most of This Activity:

  1. Change the pattern in your row (for example to 1-3-2) or make a longer pattern (1-2-1-3-2-1) and see if your child can make her row match yours.
  2. Bring the egg carton on an outing and try creating groups of 1 and 2 at the park with small rocks or sticks.


Was your child able to match groups of 1 and 2? If not, she may not be quite ready for this activity and you can try again later.


American Institute for Research

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