10 Math Skills Children Can Learn From Laundry Lids, Part 4 of 4

15 DSC_0035 edited by rjf

Top row: ABAB pattern; Middle Row: AABBAABB pattern; Bottom Row: AABAAB pattern

Math Skill 9: Patterns

Creating patterns can be confusing to children but learning patterns is foundational for both math and science. When choosing lids for patterns, select lids that are the same. This helps kids not confuse the lid differences with the patterns.

Simplest Pattern

The top row of the photo depicts the simplest pattern, ABAB (green, orange, green, orange lids). This pattern was frequently practiced in my grandson’s kindergarten class.

Children can arrange the AABBAA pattern (middle row: yellow, yellow, orange, orange, yellow, yellow, orange, orange).

More Complex

Children progress to more complex patterns, such as AABAA (bottom row: purple, purple, green, purple, purple, green). A more advanced pattern is to alternate by size of lids, such as small, medium, large, small, medium, large. How many patterns can your child create?

New Lid AB

Hint: There are more lids in container A than container B

Math Skill 10: Estimation

Kindergarten children can begin making better estimations because they understand more about numbers. Estimation is defined as a rough calculation of the value, number, or size of something that children learn in the primary grades. (1) Ask, “How many lids do you think are in the container labeled A?” Let the children guess.

Add a Hint

After children guess, add a hint. “There are more lids in container A than there are in container B. Container B has 25 lids. Estimate again. Now how many lids do you estimate are in container A?”

Ask How?

After children estimate again, ask, “How did you decide how many lids were in container A?” Finally, count the lids together. An estimate is just that, an estimate. It isn’t really right or wrong. Some estimates are simply better than others. (2)

Teaching math skills using laundry detergent lids and other lids are lots of fun for both parents and children. What new skill can you work on today with your kids?



  1. www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/estimation
  2. Developing Estimation Skills in the Primary Grades, Larry P. Leutzinger, Edward C. Rathmell, and Tonya D. Urbatsch. www.sde.ct.gov/…/mathgoal/Resources/Developing_Estimation.pdf.


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