Math Access for Teachers and Home Child Care Providers

Cereal Sorting

Children will sort loop cereal (such as Fruit Cheerios or Fruit Loops) by color and then make patterned bracelets.

Content Area Standard Target
• Numbers and Operations
• Algebra
• Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems
• Understand patterns, relations, and functions
• Count with understanding and recognize “how many” in sets of objects
• Sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties
• Recognize, describe, and extend patterns such as sequences of sounds and shapes or simple numeric patterns and translate from one representation to another
• Analyze how both repeating and growing patterns are generated
Obtain the Materials

• Chenille stems
• Loop cereal such as Fruit Cheerios or Fruit Loops
• Egg carton or muffin tin

Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the Activity
As an educator, I have amassed some “theme” jewelry that I wear on various, appropriate occasions – spider earrings and a bat necklace for Halloween, snowflake earrings for the first snowfall and all sorts of whimsical necklaces that the children love to ogle over.  For this particular lesson, I wear a simple, color beaded necklace that has a repeating pattern of colors and shapes. You can wear something similar for this lesson or bring in an appropriate patterned beaded necklace made out of wooden beads or something similar.
2. Explain that today, they will be making their own patterned bracelets out of cereal. Let the children know that while the cereal is yummy to eat, first they will be sorting the cereal by color and then using the cereal to create beautiful bracelets. After they are done with the activity, the children may eat their bracelets of you deem this appropriate.

Engage the Children

1. Break the children into groups of 3 or 4. Give them an egg carton or muffin tin and ask them to sort the cereal into the separate containers.  This is also a great activity for developing fine motor skills. While the children are sorting the cereal in their containers, fold the tips of the chenille stems inward to make sure the wire does not poke the children.
2. After the children are done sorting, give each child a chenille straw. Ask them to thread the cereal onto the stem in a pattern of green, green, orange, orange. Depending on the children, you can do patterns of ABAB, AABB (like the given example), ABCABC, or any other pattern depending on how many colors are available in the cereal.
3. When the children are finished threading the cereal, talk about the pattern and how it made the string look a certain way because of the pattern. During the discussion, put on a purple and a red bead at the very end and ask the children if those two matched the rest the pattern. Talk about how those two don’t fit in with the pattern, and decide that they need to be taken off.
4. To make it a neat bracelet, simply wrap the chenille stem around the wrist and twist the ends together. Now you have a great snack to finish up your fun learning activity. The best thing about this snack is that it is portable and can be taken along for the fun.

• Have the children create their own patterns for the bracelets.  Using the given colors, the children can create their own patterns. It is usually best for the children to create their pattern on the table before stringing it on to the chenille straw.  That way, if they make an error or change their mind about the pattern, they can easily make adjustments without having to unstring and restring the Loop Cereal.
• Create cards with patterns. For example, a card would have purple, green, yellow, blue, green. Using the card as a guide, the children create bracelets that replicate the color pattern on the card.

Encourage Vocabulary

• Pattern – A repeated design or reoccurring sequence (e.g., "The pattern of my necklace is yellow round bead, blue square bead, orange oval beads and again, yellow round bead.")
• Sort – To separate and put (people or things) in a particular order (e.g., "Sort the cereal by color into the individual compartments.")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

• Not be ready for patterns.

Pre-K Children may:

Home child care providers may:

• Allow the children to simply thread the cereal onto the stem. This activity alone provides fine motor skill and hand-eye coordination practice.

Home child care providers may:

• Have the children create their own patterns for the bracelets. Using the given colors, the children can create their own patterns. It is usually best for the children to create their pattern on the table before stringing it on to the chenille straw. That way, if they make an error or change their mind about the pattern, they can easily make adjustments without having to unstring and restring the Loop Cereal.
• Create cards with patterns. For example, a card would have purple, green, yellow, blue, green. Using the card as a guide, the children create bracelets that replicate the color pattern on the card.

Books

• Pattern Fish by Trudy Harris (Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Pub Group, 2007)
• Pattern by Henry Arthur Pluckrose (New York: Scholastic Library Publishing, 1995)

Music and Movement

• Sing the song, “There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly” by Simms Taback.  Growing pattern changes from one value to another in a predictable manner (ABA-ABAA-ABAAA)

Outdoor Connections

• This can be a great Fall activity rich with opportunity. The children can collect different types of leaves and the children can sort, categorize and create patterns using the leaves they have collected. Glue the leaves onto a piece of construction paper in the pattern that the children have created. They can create patterns by color, type of leaf (Maple, Oak) or size of leaf.

Web Resources

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