3 Simple Card Games to Practice Math Skills

Kids love card games for their challenging and competitive nature. Practicing math skills using card games is great for students in school or after school because it is fun, engaging, and educational. These math games will have your students begging to practice math at home.

A Note on Facecards

When playing the card games, you have several options for how to deal with face cards. You can take them out completely. Change them so that the Jack = 11, the Queen = 12, the King = 12. The Ace should always equal 1. Even though this option may seem difficult, kids can catch on quickly. You can also make each face card, other than the ace, equal to 10. It is up to you. Just be sure to make the guidelines clear to your students before game play.

Addition War / Multiplication War

MATH SKILL: Addition or Multiplication

This game is suitable for 2-3 people. It works similarly to the regular war card game, except you are incorporating addition or multiplication, depending on the grade level of your students. To play, deal the cards evenly to both players. Players must not shuffle or look at the cards. Players lay a card down at the same time. The first person to shout out the sum or the product wins the cards. The player with the most cards at the end of the session or to win all the cards is the winner.

Go Fish for Tens

MATH SKILL: Making Tens (a skill necessary for learning estimation, addition and regrouping)

This game works for 2-5 people. It works similar to the game Go Fish. Players receive seven cards and the leftover cards go in the pond in the middle of the table. Instead of making a pair as in Go Fish, the objective is to make 10. For example, if I have a 6 I would ask someone if they have a 4. Once a match is made, it is put down. If no match is made, students must draw one card from the pond. The player with the most matches wins the game.

NOTE: If you decide to keep face cards in the deck, students must use subtract instead of addition to make ten.


MATH SKILL: Addition, Subtraction or Multiplication

This game is for 3 people. One person acts as a captain and deals one card to each player. Without looking at the card, players hold the card up to their foreheads and say “salute”. The captain says the sum, difference or product of the two cards. The player to guess the number on their card first wins both cards. The player with the most cards at the end of the session or deck wins. For example, imagine player 1 has a 9 and player 2 has a 4. If the students are practicing addition the captain will say “The sum is 13.” Subtraction: “The difference is 5.” Multiplication: “The product is 36”. The first player to guess the number on their own card wins the cards. For older students, it is possible to practice all three math skills at once. The captain can rotate through each of the phrases throughout game play. This makes game play even more challenging and exciting for the students.

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