Let’s make a pattern!

Each week, I set up an invitation to explore some kind of math process at the math table. It can be anything from a pretend apple market to sorting buttons, to building with blocks. An invitation to explore math might be connected to a story we are reading while others might be connected to other topics the children and I have been discussing. Today’s invitation to make a simple pattern was connected to our recent exploration of circles…

Let's make a pattern!

I don’t know if you love bottle caps and lids as much as I do but I never, ever throw one away. I love the bright colors and the possible ways I can use them in my classroom for math, art, story telling, and more. I am such an avid lid collector that my whole family has become bottle cap and lid collectors too…

Let's make a pattern!

A couple of hints about collecting lids…

  1. Do run all bottle caps and lids through a dishwasher. I toss them in the silverware basket and wash them. I noticed if you wash them by hand or even rinse them, chances are you will miss some of the juice, milk, or other that hides in the rims of the lids and that shows up after time. A good hot dishwasher washing is a must do!
  2. Do use them for playing games, as counting tokens in your math center, for art in the art center, for play in the water table, and even for coins in a pretend store.  I like relating the classroom to everyday items the children have at home so there is a home/school connection.
  3. If you have students who want to put them in their mouths, then lids probably aren’t right for those students at this time without lots of monitoring from you.

Let's make a pattern!

At our math table, the children were invited to explore the process of making simple AB patterns with their lids. Some children were ready for more complex patterns while some needed to stick with a simple pattern. First the children lined up the lids into a pattern…

Let's make a pattern!

Then it was time to check over the pattern and see if any adjustments needed made…

Let's make a pattern!

If satisfied with their pattern, then it was time to draw their pattern…

Let's make a pattern!

As you can see, the children had LOTS of colorful lids to choose from…

Let's make a pattern!

After drawing their patterns, the children were invited to set the lids back in the center of the table and take their drawings home with them. Now the table was ready for someone else to stop by and take a turn!

Let's make a pattern!

Links to Grow On…

Creating with Lids in Preschool!

Learning with Lids in Preschool!

By |2016-11-29T22:28:14+00:00September 18th, 2016|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. SHARON September 18, 2016 at 3:51 pm - Reply


  2. early childhood education September 19, 2016 at 5:54 am - Reply

    Your blog has great learning ideas for preschool kids. No doubt these bottle lids are colourful and so kids are usually attracted to them but it is better to keep them away from those kids who can choke their throat, as you have mention in your third point. Thanks for sharing these ideas

  3. Natasha September 19, 2016 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Thank you very much for the lovely ideas.

  4. Melanie Edwards September 25, 2016 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    I have a question but it isn’t about patterns. I was wondering the rough dimensions of your classroom. You mention that it is small but I was wondering how small. It was hard to tell from the pictures as I took the virtual tour of your classroom. I am trying to decide if the room I have to use is big enough to start my own small preschool. Thank you Melanie

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. September 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      Hi Melanie,
      I think the best way to answer that is to decide how many students you plan to be accepting into your classroom. Let’s say you plan to accept 8 students. You will need one or two tables to accomodate 8 students for snack and other activities. Then room still for a circletime area and block center plus a few other centers for play and exploration around the classroom. Try making a map of your space and drawing in the different areas you would want to provide. Keep in mind the number of children that will need some room for easy movement in each space. Don’t forget a place to store things from home like a change of clothing (cubbies) and a place to dry art. When I started my classroom, I realized that I would need to adjust my space and numbers of students to find what would work in my circumstances and you will need to do the same. I will ask my hubby for the dimensions of my classroom and get back with you so you will know but again, the best thing for you to do is start planning your space and see what you will need to tweak, change, or add along the way.

  5. amber eoff October 4, 2016 at 8:21 am - Reply

    Such wonderful ideas on the bottle tops! Questions tho….when they glue the caps on cardboard for art. Is that a bunch of Elmer’s glue dumped onto the card board for their bottle tops? Does it truly hold the heavier tops, such as Gatorade tops? Or should I use Modge Podge? Thank you for such wonderful ideas to help me home school my little ones!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 12, 2016 at 11:19 pm - Reply

      We just used Elmers Glue and it holds fine but it does take time to dry.

      • Rocio October 15, 2016 at 12:20 am

        Hello Deborah!
        I have been following was a preschooler and now she is 6. I have learn a lot with you. Thank you. I will like to make you a private question. Is there anyway to do it?

      • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm

        You can reach me at [email protected]

  6. Kathryn Wenaas October 13, 2016 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Such wonderful ideas! I was wondering where/what box you used when you were teaching the preschoolers about teamwork and balance. I suppose I could make one with different cardboard pieces, but if you have any advice on where to look, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks

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