There are endless card games to help build math skills and most simple games can adapt to increasing skill level. As promised this post explains four teacher-designed card games that support multiple levels of math development:
A couple of notes before starting:
*Aces should equal 1 and face cards should be removed. (Or every time a player uncovers a face card they must jump three times- or some such movement activity.)
*Using a number line helps young children problem solve. Don’t have a traditional number line- use a ruler!
*Be creative. If the game isn’t working for the child, adapt the game to maximize benefits- just be consistent.
What comes next?
The child is the player and the parent is the dealer. Deal four cards to player (more than that is too many to manage). Player turns cards face up. Dealer turns over top card from the rest of the deck, “What comes next?” The player may then place one of their cards on top of the dealer’s card, if it correctly is the next number in sequence. The played card is replaced by the dealer, so that four cards remain in use. The player may continue playing correct cards until no more may be played. If none of the player’s cards can be played, then the dealer turns over another top card, “What comes next?” Continue until there are no cards left to play. Note: Aces can be kind of tricky. Be ready to make accommodations if they pop up in the player’s four cards.
Greater Than, Less Than
Divide the deck into black cards and red cards (this makes it even). Decide if you are going to play “Greater Than” or “Less Than”. Each player turns over the their top card. If playing “Greater Than” then the player who turned over the higher card gets to take both cards and place them in their next round pile. If they are equal then turn over another card. Continue until all cards have been redistributed into the next round piles. Shuffle cards in next round piles and begin again. Continue until one player is out of cards. Note: it is difficult for young children to shift between looking for greater value to lesser value. Make sure you complete at least one full game before switching.
Turn and Add
Divide the deck into red cards and black cards. Each player turns over the top two cards in their pile and adds them together. Whichever player’s sum is the greatest gets to take all of the cards and place them in their next round pile. If the sums are equal, then turn over one more card and add that to the sum. Continue until all cards have been distributed into next round piles. Shuffle cards in next round piles and begin again. Continue until one player is out of cards. Note: adapt this game for early adding- just play with Ace-5!
Calculator vs Head
Divide the deck in to red cards and black cards. One player uses her head while the other player uses a calculator. The “head” player turns over the top two cards. Both players must multiply the cards together- one using their head and the other using the calculator. Whoever gets the correct answer first gets to collect the cards and place in their point pile. When all the cards in the deck have been played, the player with the most cards in their point pile gets a point. Switch head and calculator players and try again. Best out of 3! Note: Children just learning the multiplication facts will want to use the calculator, but eventually they will learn that it is actually faster to remember the facts!
Grab a deck of cards and get busy playing and learning.