Math, Parenting

If You Give a Kid Some Cards They Will…#PlayMath

Kids with CardsI love to play cards.  It is a love that has been instilled in me by my parents and grandparents.  Now I am lucky enough to have my kids picking up this love from my family.  The joy for me comes not only from the game but from the memories of get seeing 4 generations of my family sitting around a table sharing time together, conversations, and fun.  My kids have 3 favorite games that they have been taught by their great grandparents.  They ask to play them every time we are all together.  These games are great for the kids because they are easy to learn and also allow them to use their ever growing skills in mathematics.  I wanted to share them with you.  Maybe they will become an opportunity for you to sit around a table with your own children and #PlayMath.

Chase the Ace

The object of the game is to not  not be stuck with the lowest card.  In this game the kings are high and aces are low.  To Cards at the Lakeplay this game you need a standard set of cards and three counters per person (nickles, paperclips, buttons…). The dealer deals out one card to each player.  Each player then looks at their card and determines whether or not they want to keep it or trade it with the person to their left.  The player to the left of the dealer starts by saying “keep” if they want to keep the card or trades it with the person to their left by sliding it face down to the player. That player must then exchange cards with the player wanting to change unless they have a king. If they have a king they lay the king down face up and show the rest of the players as proof. Having the king makes them immune to trades for that round. If that happens the trade can not occur and the player must keep the card.  The big risk comes in when changing your card because you always run the risk of changing for a lower card.  After the exchange has taken place the player who was forced to trade looks a their card. They then decide if they want to stand or change with the player to their left. Play continues around the table until it reaches the dealer. If the dealer wants to exchange cards they turn theirs up and cut the deck.  The card they cut becomes their card.

Once the play is back to the dealer all players lay their card down face up for all to see. The player with the lowest card places one of their counters into the pot. If more than one player has the lowest card, each player with the low card must place a counter into the pot. The cards are collected to be shuffled and dealt by the next player to the left of the dealer.  In this way the role of the dealer also goes around the table.

Once a player loses all their counters they are out of the game.  The winner is the last player to still have a counter.

Sticks- A Game of Sets and Runs

This is the current favorite around the table.  All you need to play is a set of large Popsicle sticks (we bought ours from the dollar store) and a deck of cards.  My mom actually made 2 sets.  One that is more challenging for us adults, and a junior version for the kids.  In this way everyone is playing together.  The object of this game is to successfully accomplish the task on your stick before someone around the table goes out.  To go out you are able to get rid of all of your cards by laying out your own sets and runs or by playing on the sets and runs of others.  Each time you accomplish a task you “earn” your stick and can turn it face up.  The first person to earn seven sticks wins.

Full Rules can be found at E How Sticks Card Game

Our list of Adult and Junior Sticks-  Sticks


unoWhat can I say…we love this game.  It’s fun, it’s easy, and their is nothing better that sticking a “Pick Up 4” to a loved one.

For more games and resources check out the links below:

  • Games to Play with a Deck of Cards –  This booklet is created by Math Coach’s Corner.  It is a great collection of games that can be copied into a small booklet.  I think this would make a great gift for families at a Math Night or other such events.
  • Acing Math– This 69 page booklet features games, for grades K though 6 children, that can be played with a standard deck of cards. It’s an amazing resource.

Have Fun and PlayMath!!


2 thoughts on “If You Give a Kid Some Cards They Will…#PlayMath”

  1. Ms. Brokofsky,
    My family and I also love to play card games. I think it is something that will continue to be passed down from generation to generation. I do believe playing cards truly enhance your mathematical abilities. Playing cards gets the player to use more critical thinking and problem solving. It also enhances decision making, allowing the player to take the time to consider all the possibilities available to reach your goal. I think that letting the “little ones” play is a good way for children to learn number recognition and it will also help them start using addition and subtraction

  2. I am also from a card playing family. When all of my extended family were together when I was a kid, the adults would be playing their card games at the kitchen table, and the kids would always have a card game going on in the living room. As the kids have all gotten older, we all play together and are now teaching our own kids how to play. Just the words “playing cards” makes math more enjoyable for kids than constantly reciting math facts or doing worksheets. It will also increase their thinking skills as they practice different strategies for these games. I will definitely be trying some of the card games you mentioned and some that were in your additional resources with my own kids, and I’m excited to use them in my classroom one day!

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