A humble deck of cards is one of the most valuable tools to help kids learn math. Sure, there are tons of entertaining and funny board games aiding in math education (Sum Swamp immediately jumps to mind) but card games are a cheap, on-the-go alternative.
Have a look at these easy-to-learn card games for kids of all ages, guaranteed to deliver tons of fun along with valuable learning opportunities.
Elevens is reminiscent of the popular card game Set but a deck of cards will suffice. It combines speedy reflexes and fast addition skills and can be a single or multiplayer game.
Deal the cards in a 3×3 grid formation and leave the rest face-down next to the grid. Players need to add 2 card values to get 11 and then remove that pair. Ace counts as 1 and royal cards can be collected in a set of 3 (K, Q, J together). So, if a player spots a 9 and a 2 card, they yell “ELEVEN” and remove the pair from the grid. The 2 cards are then replaced with 2 from the face-down deck and the game continues.
This game is a hit with adults and kids alike, albeit for different reasons. The aim of the game is simple, don’t go over 21. But the element of “chance” makes it a little more nerve-wracking.
The game is best played with 2 or more players, one of which will act as the “dealer”. To simplify it for children, however, you can forego most of the traditional Blackjack rules.
Simply deal 2 cards face up to each player, and 2 to the deal (one facing up and one facing down). The players then add up the total of their cards and take a chance on whether or not they want to be dealt another card. The aim is to not have a total higher than 21. The dealer then flips over their card to see if their total is more or less than the total value of the player’s cards.
This is a great game for basic addition skills but if older learners want to join in the fun, you can also introduce division and multiplication to make it more interesting. Start the game with a deck of cards and a blank sheet of paper.
Each player receives 6 cards and needs to make a combination of 4 numbers in an equation to get as close as possible to 100. For example, cards 7,3,1,2,9,4 can be paired as 73+24 to make a total of 97. See who can get closer to 100 without going over to determine the winner.
Turn traditional solitaire on its head with this innovative layout. Start to place cards in a pyramid formation with one at the top, two below, three under that, all the way down to 6. All rows should be half covered by the next, only leaving the last row fully exposed.
You can only play with fully exposed cards, meaning there is no other card overlapping it from the bottom. Pair cards up to make combinations of 10 i.e. 9+1, 8+2, and so on. Once you can make 10, you can remove the pair to the discard pile.
If there is no pair to be made, you can draw from the draw pile. If it does not match with an exposed card, it must then be placed on the pyramid. See how far you can break down the pyramid until there is nothing left in the draw pile.
Not all card games that teach kids math skills require arithmetic experience. A game like card bingo can be great to teach young kids number recognition too. Start by dealing 11 cards to each player and placing them in a fanned-out line.
Start to draw cards from the draw pile and call out the numeric value as the card is drawn. Players should then try to identify that number in their own card lineup and discard it to one side. The player who is first able to remove all their cards can call out “Bingo!”.
If this is too easy, you can add an element of addition or subtraction. If you call out “2”, players then need to remove their “8” card as together they will make 10. You can adjust the numbers as you like, depending on the players’ mathematical abilities.
These are only a hand full of the fantastic games you can teach kids to help them improve their math skills. No matter how easy they might seem, they all add value to a child’s mathematical journey as they help kids get comfortable with numbers and doing math in their heads.
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