As parents, we all strive to provide our children with activities that are not only fun but also educational. However, you might be surprised to learn just how much your young children are learning and developing through seemingly simple learning activities. 

Today we will focus on one such activity, which involves basic skills such as matching colours, cutting, and replicating patterns, can help your child practise a remarkable array of 18 or more different skills. 

And the best part? Your child can do most of the preparation themselves, gaining independence and confidence in the process. Let’s explore how this activity supports their development in a multitude of ways.

What do I know about all this?

As you may or may not know, I have been working on curriculum development for many years. It started when I was a live-in English tutor in Italy in 1991, (yes, I really am that old 😳). Making materials and a fun way to help my students learn new words. In 1998 I moved to Japan, in ‘99 I was doing in house development for the language school I worked for, after that with OUP. And then I went on to do Montessori training, worked a small Montessori school and started making materials that I ended up selling online.

All that to say, when I put activities together, I have several outcomes in mind, a primary outcome and then other objectives that I hope the child is learning and practising new skills as they do the activity.

Adjust the activity to the child’s skill level

For this activity and any other activity, you can adjust it to suit your child’s development. Maybe they are able to do the colouring in but are not ready for scissor use yet. If that is the case, let them do the parts that they can and you take over for the parts they need help with.

I see parents posting online about how long it is taking them to prepare the children’s activities – stop doing that! 

Let them do as much as possible, it’s a great way for them to practise those skills that you have already mastered.

This Activity Teaches Your Child 18+ skill

This activity is taken from the 193 Little Adventures Morocco Pack – available on in the shop.

  • Page 1 is a grid of squares. Each square contains a letter, either y, g, b, r. These match the key that shows yellow, green, blue, and red. 
  • The first task is to colour in the squares following the key. 
  • The next step is to cut the grid into strips, then cut them into individual squares. 
  • Next step is on page two. This has cards with patterns on them made up of coloured squares to match the previous page. 
  • The child needs to cut out all the pattern cards. These have rounded corners, unlike the tiles on the first page that are square.
  • Once the child has prepared everything, they can work with the pattern cards.
  • They pick up a pattern card, place it on the table/map (top left) and use the cut out squares to replicate the pattern.
Quick example of the skills in use

The skills your child is practising whilst doing the activity

This is not a definitive list, I may have missed some! And of course, it depends how involved your child is, we are assuming here that the parent tells the child the steps, and the child is doing all the stages of the activity.

 1. Colour Recognition

Your child will practise matching letters (y, g, b, r) to their corresponding colours (yellow, green, blue, red). This helps them distinguish between different colours.

 2. Fine Motor Skills

Colouring within the lines, cutting out strips and individual squares, and cutting out pattern cards with rounded corners all enhance your child’s fine motor skills. These activities also improve hand strength and dexterity, essential for writing and other tasks. If you need more fine motor skills activities, I have 50+ listed here.

 3. Hand-Eye Coordination

As they colour, cut, and place the squares accurately to replicate the patterns, your child’s hand-eye coordination will improve. This skill is crucial for many everyday activities, from tying shoelaces to playing sports.

 4. Pattern Recognition

Identifying and replicating patterns shown on the cards sharpens your child’s ability to recognise and predict sequences, a foundational skill in math and logic.

 5. Following Instructions

This activity requires your child to adhere to a series of steps to complete it correctly. This helps them understand the importance of following directions and improves their ability to process and execute instructions.

 6. Concentration and Focus

Staying attentive and patient through multiple steps enhances your child’s concentration and focus. These traits are vital for academic success and effective problem-solving. It is also a skill that kids these days are not get enough of due to screen time and the constant brain switching (I’d say adults too!)

 7. Problem-Solving

Figuring out how to arrange the coloured squares to match the patterns encourages your child to think critically and solve problems independently.

 8. Spatial Awareness

Understanding the positioning and alignment of squares to replicate the patterns helps develop spatial awareness, an essential skill for tasks ranging from reading maps to understanding geometric relationships.

 9. Vocabulary Development

Learning and using the names of colours and following the instructions expand your child’s vocabulary and comprehension skills.

 10. Creativity

Engaging in this hands-on, creative task allows your child to express themselves artistically while also thinking logically about how to achieve the desired outcome. They may want to extend the activity and make their own patterns and designs.

 11. Letter Recognition

Identifying and matching the specific letters of the alphabet (y, g, b, r) to the corresponding colours reinforces letter recognition, a key pre-reading and literacy skills.

 12. Sequencing

Understanding and following the order of steps required to complete the activity builds your child’s sequencing abilities, important for both reading comprehension and mathematical reasoning.

 13. Attention to Detail

Ensuring that the colours and patterns match exactly as instructed teaches your child to pay close attention to details, a skill beneficial in all areas of learning.

 14. Independence

Working through the activity steps on their own builds confidence and self-reliance, showing your child that they can complete tasks independently. As this particular activity also allows them to self correct, they can work without having to be overseen by a teacher or family members.

 15. Critical Thinking

Analysing and deciding the best way to approach and solve the task enhances your child’s critical thinking skills, necessary for making decisions and solving complex problems.

 16. Memory

Remembering the colour key and how to match the letters to colours as they move through the steps improves your child’s memory, aiding in better retention of information. You can make this activity more difficult for older kids by placing the pattern card in a different part of the room to the tiles so that they have to memorise the tile pattern to recreate it. 

 17. Organisation

Keeping the cut-out squares and pattern cards orderly teaches your child to stay organised, a skill that will benefit them in both academic and personal life.

 18. Communication

Explaining the steps or describing the patterns to others can enhance your child’s verbal skills, helping them become better communicators. In a Montessori classroom setting often older children will “teach” the younger kids basic concepts or how to do a new activity. If your child doesn’t have a younger sibling, a great way to get around this is have them explain the activity to another member of the family and they are the practicing their communication skills too.

Wrap Up

This simple activity isn’t just about fun; it’s a powerhouse of learning and development. By letting your child take the lead, you’re giving them the opportunity to practise these 18+ essential skills. So next time you set up an activity, remember: sometimes the best preparation is letting them do it themselves. And don’t worry about it being ‘Insta worthy’

The other thing to remember is that as an adult, we might see some educational activities as pointless or boring, instead look at it from the child’s point of view. What new things will they be learning? What simple things will the child get from it, especially if it is their first time doing a specific activity? And for their favourite activities, what skills are they practicing whilst doing them?



193 free resource library with cover images from some of the free packs

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