To teach some patterning, which is very helpful for early math and categorization of objects, I made Natural Patterns in Play Dough Sensory Tub for the toddlers and preschoolers. This sensory tub provides an opportunity for imaginative play ( my kids made porcupines and fl0wers with it,) yet it is also helpful for pattern recognition.
Ask the kids to make oval, square or round shapes out of play dough. Then, ask them to put the grains and the pasta in a pattern-like manner. Explain what is a pattern and explain how the children sometimes have to count objects in order to create a pretty pattern ( one grain of white rice, followed by three grains of black rice, for example.)
For the Natural Patterns in Play Dough Sensory Tub you need one batch of white play dough, combined with green food coloring; plus any grains, lentils, beans, pasta, seeds, etc, you’d like to add.