We recently taught Lucy how to play the card game, War, and she loves it. We started out playing with the numeric Uno cards, but yesterday I brought up one of our standard poker decks. When Lucy asked, "What are THOSE cards?" I replied, "Well, this is a standard deck of cards. You could play games like poker or euchre with them."
Lucy: "What’s poker?"
Me: "Just a card game."
Lucy: "Can you teach me poker?"
Me, not slightly embarrassed, "Um, probably not. I don’t know how to play poker very well."
Lucy got up really early this morning – almost a full hour before she was supposed to. As a result, CJ had to rearrange some of her morning’s usual schedule. When she announced she was going to take a shower, Lucy got very clingy. I didn’t have anything to do until CJ was out of the shower, so I asked, "Lucy, would you like to go play War?"
Lucy, who was now in CJ’s arms, responded with her best puppy dog eyes, "Can we play poke?" (not "poker", just "poke")
CJ did a very slow blink, and then looked at me. I asked, "Lucy, do you mean ‘poker’?".
"Yes," she replied.
CJ did another slow blink, trying to make sense out of what she just heard. I explained about the conversation surrounding the deck of cards yesterday.
CJ started to laugh. "I was trying to figure out where she had heard the word." She let Lucy down, "Ok you two go run off and play poker then."
Now the real issue – how do I teach her how to play a game that I don’t know very well myself? Well, poker, and some other card games like rummy and hand-n-foot rely on patterns – runs/straights, 2-, 3-, or 4- of a kind, flushes and so one. I started there.
I would slowly deal out one card at a time, and showed Lucy to recognize patterns based on the same number, the same suit, and runs/straights. As more and more cards were laid down, I showed her how to rearrange them to make different patterns.
By the end, she was calling out both number and suits, and could put them together with others of the same number and suit. Straights were harder for her to see, but she’s getting there.
If she asks for one of these for her fourth birthday, I’ll know I succeeded.
I’ll also know I’ve created a monster.