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Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Play a Pattern Game for Learning Fun!

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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!