Math games for kids with a deck of cards

One of the best ways to develop a child's math skills and to build self-confidence is to practice practice practice. We encourage parents and educators to make learning fun for kids by incorporating games and activities into their lessons. 

In this article, we will explore some simple math games to play with kids using only a deck of cards. These math games enable kids to practice their addition, subtraction and multiplication skills whilst having fun.

Before you start, remove all the picture cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) and jokers from the deck.  The Ace will represent 1. Shuffle the deck well and get started!

memory makes 10 math card game

Memory Makes 10 

This game can be played by 1 – 4 people and is best suited for primary school children (6–8 years old). This game combines using the child’s memory and basic addition skills. 

  • Before you start, the parent or educator must sort through the deck of cards and identify 12 pairs of cards that add up to 10. For example a 2 and an 8. 
  • Lay the 24 cards face down on the table in a grid of 3 rows with 4 cards in each row. 
  • Let the youngest player go first and move around the table in a clockwise direction. 
  • Each player takes a turn to turn over a pair of cards, trying to find a pair of cards that add up to ten. 
  • If the pair of cards that are turned over add up to ten, then those cards are removed from the grid.
  • If the pair of cards that are turned over does not equal ten, those cards must be returned to a face-down orientation on the table, and the next player gets to take their turn. 
  • The players need to try and remember what the cards are in a face-down position to find the pairs that add up to ten. 
  • Keep a notebook nearby to record which player turns over the most pairs.
go fish for 10

Go Fish for 10

This game is for two or more players of any age (though it’s much more fun with three to five players). 

  • Start by dealing five cards to each player. 
  • Stack the remaining cards face down in the middle of the table. This will be the “Go fish” draw pile. 
  • The aim of the game is to collect pairs of cards with a total sum of 10 and place these pairs face up on the table. The player with the most pairs on the table is the winner. 
  • If a player is dealt any pairs of cards with a total sum of 10 then those cards can be placed on the table (face up) on their first turn. 
  • Select the player to go first and move around the table in a clockwise direction. 
  • The first player asks any specific player for a card. For example, “Mom, I have a four, please give me a six.” The player making the request must already have a four card in their hand.
  • The player being asked must hand over the card being requested (in this example, a six) if they have one. The first player has now created a ‘Go Fish for 10’ pair and removes those two cards from their hand and places them on the table.
  • If the player being asked does not hold the card being requested, he says, “Go fish.” In this instance, the first player must then draw a card from the centre stack.  If the card drawn creates a pair that adds up to 10, then the pair of cards can be placed face-up on the table.
  • The game continues until either someone has no cards left in their hand or the draw pile runs out. The winner is the player who has created the most ‘Go Fish for 10’ pairs.
Red you plus, Black you minus - math card game for kids

Red you plus, Black you minus

  • For this game, each player will need a pencil and paper. 
  • This game can be played as an individual practice activity or as a competitive game. 
  • When playing with more than one player, split the deck evenly between players, in other words, deal the entire deck evenly to all the players. 
  • Play begins with each player’s deck stacked in a pile face down.  
  • Each player starts with a beginning score of 10, this should be written at the top of their paper.
  • Select the player to go first and move around the table in a clockwise direction. 
  • Each player takes a turn to flip their top card. If it is a red card, then the number on the card is added to the player’s score, if it is a black card then the number on the card is subtracted from the score. 
  • The player writes the equation (10 - 8 = 2) and a new total score on their paper. Then play moves on to the next player’s turn. 
  • Play continues in this manner for 10 rounds (turns per player). 
  • If playing competitively, the winner of the game is the person with the highest score at the end of the game.
score a century for kids

Score a century

This game is for two or more players. This game is suited for older kids who understand the concept of addition and multiplication. 

  • Each player is dealt four cards. 
  • Each player has 2 minutes to arrange their four cards in any combination using addition and multiplication to get a total as close to 100 as possible, without going over 100. 
  • Cards may be combined to form a double-digit number, for example, a 7 and 3 maybe become 73. 
  • The winner of the round is the person with the sum closest to 100.
  • Play continues in this manner for 10 rounds (turns per player). 
  • Keep a notebook nearby and record the winner of each round.  
  • If playing competitively, the winner of the game is the person with the highest score at the end of 10 rounds.

We hope you enjoyed these fun math games. We encourage parents and educators to bring fun to the classroom to help motivate students and instil a love for learning! As our CambriLearn Maths teacher, Kendall Born always says, if you are laughing you are learning!

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