Lots of families are either learning at home or will be at some point this year, so we find ourselves having to be a bit more creative about school. Learning addition and multiplication math facts can be a bit dry, but having some fun and educational games on hand to help teach and reinforce math facts is a great way to make it more interesting!
Here are some of the math card games we’ll be using this year to help make learning those boring math facts more fun. I’ve also included instructions for more advanced variations of each game so you can customize these games for various ability levels.
Go Fish for Ten
For up to four players — This game is a variation on the classic Go Fish card game. The difference is that instead of “fishing” for matching number pairs, players “fish” for pairs of cards that together add up to 10.
- First remove the queens and kings from the deck and deal five cards per player. In this game, aces are worth 1 and jacks are worth 0
- Place the rest of the deck on the table, in the middle of the players. This is the “fishing pond”.
- The youngest player starts by asking any other player for a card that when added with a card in their own hand, will add up to the sum of 10.
- If the other player has the requested card, they pass it to the first player who places it on the side with its matching card (remember these two cards must add up to 10). Player 1 can then ask again.
- If the other player does not have the card, they tell Player 1 to, “Go fish,” and Player 1 draws the top card from the fishing pond pile and adds it to their hand.
- Play passes to the player on their left.
- If a player pairs up all the cards in their hand, they draw another 4 cards from the fishing pond and keeps playing.
- Game play continues until the fishing pond is empty and none of the players can make any more pairs.
- The winner is the player with the most pairs at the end.
For two players — Another variation on a traditional card game, this version of War can be used to help reinforce either addition or multiplication facts.
- 12px;”>Remove the queens and kings from the deck and deal the rest of the cards equally to each player (22 cards). In this game, aces are worth 1 and jacks are worth 0.
- When you have two players who are roughly at the same math level, then each player draws one card from their half of the deck and places it in the middle.
- The first child to correctly announce the sum of the two cards, wins both cards and places them on the side.
- Whenever a player runs out of cards in their draw deck, shuffle the pile of “won” cards and that now becomes their new draw deck.
- The winner is the player who takes all the cards.
- Evenly matched children can end up playing forever though, so you can either stop play when the players have gone through their first draw deck, or set a time limit. In either case, the winner is the player with the most cards when the game ends.
Variation 1: When children are not evenly matched, one player will end up losing over and over again which is frustrating and demoralizing. This game can be adapted in that case by having each player draw and lay down two cards at a time. Each player adds up their own two cards, and the player with the greater sum takes all four cards. Again, the winner is there player holding the most cards at the end of the game.
Variation 2: For older kids, this game can be made more challenging by leaving the queens (=11) and kings (=12) in the deck, and/or by multiplying the two numbers instead of adding (and then you can call this Multiplication War).
What Am I Holding?
For two players and a judge —Kids love playing this game because they get to stick cards on their foreheads! Instead of unsanitary saliva, this mom suggests wiping the back of the card with a damp cloth to help it stick.
- Remove the queens and kings from the deck and deal the rest of the cards equally to each player (22 cards). In this game, aces are worth 1 and jacks are worth 0.
- In each round of play, each player draws the top card from their deck and sticks the card, facing out, on their forehead without looking at the front of the card.
- The judge announces the sum of both cards, and each player tries to calculate the value of their own card based on knowing the other player’s card.
- The first player to announce their own card correctly takes both cards.
- Continue gameplay until all the cards have been played.
- The winner is the player with the most cards at the end.
Variation: For older kids, this game can be made more challenging by leaving the queens (=11) and kings (=12) in the deck, or by the judge multiplying the two numbers instead of adding. For example, if one child has a 7 on her forehead and the other child has a 4, the judge would announce, “The product of your cards is 28.”