Mathematics Diagnostic Game #1: Differences and Similarities: Observations of Patterns in Mathematics (c) Tara Pelton.
For particular use in Special Needs Education for Exceptional Children
Materials: A deck of cards, large table
Student Actions: Shuffle cards well. Flip them over. Now, put the cards by suit (diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs).
Teacher Actions: Observe student establishing patterns by shape and color. Note any pause or slowness such as being unable to differentiate patterns. Allow the student time. If the student has difficulty, have him separate by color first, and once he is confident with color, go back to pattern development by shape (diamonds, etc). Some students will like to time themselves, which should be allowed and the student allowed to beat his target and so forth, if he wishes.
Teacher Modeling: Across the table from the student, the Teacher may use a second deck of cards. She may then play the Game #1 and allow the student to watch. Teacher may also play competitively with student if student so wishes. Teacher plays slightly above the level of the student’s ability … unless student is better than the teacher already ;-). Teacher explains her actions in words and gestures.
Vocabulary: Pattern. Help the student to understand that mathematics is a science of patterns.
Observations and Recommendations: Teacher writes her Observations by: Student Name, Student Number, Grade, Age and any educational plan of which this is a part.  Teacher provides Evaluation as to the ability to differentiate patterns at the most basic level: similarities and differences in shape, pattern and color.
Tara Pelton, B.A. is a graduate student at Northridge University in the field of special education. She is also a tutor. She works in Los Angeles.