# SchoolFamily Voices

Join our bloggers as they share their experiences on the challenges and joys of helping children succeed in school.

## Play a Pattern Game for Learning Fun!

Let's have some pattern fun with a game I call "Powerful Patterns." For this game you will need a deck of playing cards.

The game can be played on any flat surface. The adult and child sit side-by-side, facing in the same direction. Use about twelve to twenty of the cards from the deck, face down, in a pile. (You will be using the design side of the card, not the number or face side.)

The adult lays out a simple, two-step pattern using the cards. For example: one card vertical, the next horizontal, the next vertical, the next horizontal, and so on. Continue with four of five cards in this pattern. Stop and ask your child to figure out which card comes next. If your child is able to do this correctly, let them continue the pattern.

Once they master this sequence, try a three-step pattern. Lay one card vertically, and the next two horizontally. In other words: up, across and across. Up, across, across, and so on. Encourage your child to describe the pattern using the proper directional words. Your child should become comfortable continuing patterns, and describing the predictability of the pattern.

Here are some tips for increasing variety and challenge:

Use the face side of the playing cards in a pattern sequence. Isolate all Kings, Queens, and Jacks from each suite in your deck of cards. Start a three-step pattern, on a tabletop or the floor. For example: Jack, Queen, King... and let your child continue the pattern in a line. Move on to a four-step pattern. (Ace, King, Queen, Jack.) Let your child continue the pattern. Try substituting household items for the cards. For example: Make a pattern on a tabletop such as: cup, fork, spoon... cup, fork, spoon, etc. Let your child continue the pattern. Make a pattern snack on a plate: Line up a Cheerio, a raisin, and a Goldfish cracker. Let your child continue the pattern in a line. Once the plate is full, its time to eat! (Who knew that patterns could be delicious too?) Let your child become a pattern detective. Go on a pattern hunt in your house. Find examples of patterns such as: windowpanes, tiles, wallpaper, and bedspreads, even stripes on a shirt!
You'll be amazed at the creativity of your child!

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## Recognizing Patterns is a First Step to Success in Reading and Math

Patterns are part of our daily life!

Some patterns are visual; such as the way tiles are placed on a floor. Some patterns are auditory, like "e-i, e-i, o" in the song "Old MacDonald Had A Farm." We all, unconsciously, follow patterns, like our morning routine or our daily work schedule.

Patterns are an important learning tool for young children. Patterns are organized, repetitive, and predictable. Recognizing and understanding patterns gives a child the confidence to determine what will come next. Being able to predict what comes next, in both reading and math, leads to greater comprehension. And that is what learning and building academic skills is all about!

A good example of a reading pattern is what the wolf repeatedly says in "The Three Little Pigs." ("So I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in.")

A good example of a math pattern is recognizing odd and even numbers.

Patterns are everywhere and they're fun! Once your child discovers patterns he or she will see them in almost everything!
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## Understanding One-to-One Correspondence

One-to-one correspondence is a fundamental skill in both math and reading.

Adults use this concept every day. We automatically count out appropriate dollar bills and coins to pay for items. We set the table for the right amount of people. We read in a left-to-right progression, scanning each word as we read it.

But, one-to-one correspondence is often difficult for young children to comprehend. In Math recognizing the number "ten," and being able to count out "ten" items are two separate skills. Linking objects with numbers enables a child to count with understanding.

Mastering one-to-one correspondence is essential for organized, meaningful counting. This leads to an eventual ability to perform higher-level calculations.

Mastering one-to-one correspondence is important for your child's reading success as well. It reinforces the print-to-voice connection. This means that your child "says" what he or she "sees."
The best way to subtly practice this concept is to sweep your index finger under each word, in a left-to-right progression, as you read to your child. Your child will start to model this reading behavior, and begin to make that "see and say" connection.

Using their own index finger under words they are reading is an excellent way for children to visually track what is being read.
This simple technique will enable your child to become a more fluent reader!
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## Summer Learning Activity Can Turn Into Donated Rice

A colleague sent me this neat site that promotes learning and feeds people at the same time! I have to confess I probably spent a little too much time reviewing my high school french vocabulary but it's hard to stop when each correct answer donates another 10 grains of rice to the United Nations Food Program!

FreeRice is a great way to keep your kids' brains sharp over the summer months. The quizzes are very easy to use and I like how they return to questions you previously answered wrong to make sure the word or concept has stuck. Lots of subjects to choose from - vocabulary, science, geography, and math.

Looking for other ways to keep kids' minds active this summer? Check out this article -Summer Amnesia: Avoid the Brain Drain.
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## The Triangle Base: Three Core Skills All Early Elementary Children Need To Enhance Learning

When parents want to prepare a healthy meal for their child, there are hundreds of cookbooks to guide them. But when a parent wants to prepare their child for school success, there are limited resources at their disposal. That is about to change! I am so happy to be contributing to this blog to show parents simple, fun, and effective ways to enhance their child's ability to learn.

Preschool and elementary-aged children need to develop a certain skill set before they can master learning. Experience has taught me that there are three main skills to be mastered.

I call these skills my "Triangle Base."

These skills are:

· Rhyming (This promotes Phonemic Awareness, a crucial pre-reading skill. Simply put, this is the ability to hear sounds in spoken language.)

· One-to-One Correspondence. (In math, this means seeing the numeral six, for example, and being able to count out six objects. In reading, it means that the child is saying what he or she is seeing.)

· Patterns. Recognizing and understanding both visual and auditory patterns. (An example of a visual pattern would be tile placement on a floor. An example of an auditory pattern would be the "E,I,E,I,O" refrain from the "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" song.)

These three important core skills form a solid base upon which most other educational skills can be built and sharpened. I'll be sharing some tips, games, activities, and resources to help your children learn these core skills and more! Together we will give your children a "head start" that will greatly improve their ability to reach their true academic potential. Hope you will check in often and add your own thoughts and suggestions in the comments.
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