Creative ideas with patterns

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By Judith Harriesteacher

Original article published on 11 September 2012

Explore creative activities using spirals, zigzags, stripes and spots, including songs and rhymes, musical games, sketching, cutting, modelling, printing, cooking, painting and decorating.

Sand pattern

Spiral mobile

Let children draw around circle templates using different types of paper. Try patterned wrapping paper, shiny paper, coloured paper, or ask children to decorate a piece of paper with their own patterns. Draw a spiral on the back of the circle and cut out carefully. Attach string to one end of each spiral and hang up so that the spirals twirl around.


Challenge children to find shapes and patterns on natural objects. Make a collection of shells for children to handle and look at closely. Use sea shells and snail shells with patterns and spirals on them. Let children use chalks and pastels to sketch what they can see.

Spirals in the sand

Practise fine motor control by drawing in different materials. Use shallow trays with dry or wet sand and let children experiment by drawing spirals, and other patterns – zigzags, wavy lines, spots, stars, and so on. Try using different mediums such as coloured cornflour, custard powder, and finger paint. Encourage them to enjoy the sensation of making patterns in the different materials.

Crayon colouring

The snail

Be inspired by a famous work of art and create a colourful snail! Look at images of Matisse’s collage ‘The Snail’ on the internet. Ask children to draw a big spiral on a square piece of paper using a thick felt pen. Provide lots of coloured paper for the children to tear into different-sized shapes. Challenge them to arrange the shapes on top of their spiral and stick them down with glue to create their own collage snail.

String prints

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