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20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games


20 of the Best Activities for Learning Math with Card Games

Teaching math skills can be challenging for all teachers. Every math teacher answers the same questions dozens of times daily. It’s time to give your students a new and engaging way to practice all of those important math skills. Using playing cards, Uno cards, and a few printable sheets, there are tons of exciting card games that teach and practice numerous skills.

These games practice computational skills, place value, decimals, fractions, money, probability, and more. Here are 20 card games that will engage your students on a variety of math skills!

1. Addition to 100 Game

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games _ Addition to 100

This simple card game teaches students how to add single digits all the way up to 100. Follow these simple directions to get started:

  1. Each player starts with zero points.
  2. Players take turns taking one card at a time.
  3. Each turn, every player adds the new number to their previous score.
  4. The first player to score exactly 100, without going over, is the winner.
  5. If the cards run out, the player with the highest score under 100 is the winner.

2. Division War Game

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games_Division war game

Division can be a hard skill to learn for many kids. Try out this fun game to teach division!

  1. Deal all cards to players. Put them face down in a stack in front of each student.
  2. Each player turns over 2 cards.
  3. All players look at the turned over cards and try to find a division fact (such as 9÷3=3). They take those cards to put under their stack.
  4. The game is over when one player runs out of cards to turn over.
  5. The player with the most cards wins.

3. Nifty Fifty

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games_Nifty Fifty

This game is great for practicing multi-digit subtraction. The goal of getting an answer of 50 can be changed to make the game easier or harder.        

  1. Each player draws 6 cards.
  2. Students can combine cards to make a larger number (i.e. a 7 and a 2 could be 72)
  3. The goal is to use the 6 cards to create an equation closest to 50. The player with the closest equation wins 1 point.
  4. The first student to score 5 points is the winner.

4. Times Tables War

Teach multiplication facts to students with this easy-to-learn game that can be played in just a few minutes and keeps kids engaged! You will need Uno cards for this game, and it is played in pairs.

  1. Remove the action cards (leaving only the numbered cards)
  2. Shuffle the cards and place them face down in a stack.
  3. Each player flips over 2 cards from the deck.
  4. The player with the higher product when multiplying their two cards gets to keep all 4 cards.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 until all cards have been played. The players with the most cards won is the winner

5. Fraction War

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games

This game is another version of “war” using regular playing cards to teach and practice with fractions.

  1. Shuffle and deal all the cards to the students.
  2. Each player turns over 2 cards from their pile and puts one above a pencil and one below it (forming a fraction)
  3. The player with the larger fraction wins all 4 cards.
  4. Play continues until all cards are played and the student with the most cards at the end is the winner.

6. Tens Go Fish

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games

This take on the classic “go fish” game teaches students basic single digit addition skills. This game can be played with at least 2 players. You also need to remove all face cards and “10” cards prior to starting the game.

  1. Deal each player 5 cards. Place the remaining cards in the middle as the “go fish” pile.
  2. Players can look through their cards to see if they have any 2 cards that add up to 10. If they do, they can remove those cards, place them face up in pairs, and replace them with additional cards from the pile.
  3. Each turn, a student will ask another student for a specific numbered card they need to create a sum of 10. If they have the card, they give it to the player and they place the new pair face up. They would then take another card from the pile. If they don’t have the number, then the player would draw one card from the pile.
  4. Play continues until all cards are used or there are no pairs left. The student with the most pairs is the winner.

7. Counting Card Game

This game’s goal is to practice counting starting at a number other than one. You will need dice and regular cards to play this game.

  1. Shuffle the cards and place them face down in the middle. Flip over the top card to make a discard pile.
  2. The first student rolls the die (or dice) and then counts up starting at the number of the card that is flipped over.
  3. The next student flips over another card, rolls, and counts.

There are no points, no score, and no winner in this one. Sometimes it’s fun if everyone is the winner!

8. Flip Three

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games_Flip Three

What looks like a simple “memory” game becomes a much more math-oriented version that practices all four arithmetic skills: adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.

  1. Place all the cards face down on the table in rows.
  2. Each turn, a player will flip over three cards and attempt to make an equation. They can make the equation in any order and using any type of arithmetic. If they can create an equation then they keep the cards, if not they turn them back over.
  3. When only 7 cards remain, the game is over and the player with the most cards is the winner!

9. Decimal Place Value Game

Players try to make the greatest number in this decimal place value game.

Source: Games 4 Gains

Practice decimal place value with this fun card game that requires regular cards (no face cards), score cards, and a pencil.

  1. Shuffle the deck and place it face down in the middle.
  2. Each player takes one card and places it face-up in front of them.
  3. Every turn, each student writes down the number they have drawn in one of the place values on their score card.
  4. Play continues by each player continuing to draw one card and writing the number in a different place value until every player has six cards.
  5. Once all players have filled a row of 6 digits, they will each read their number aloud (correctly using the decimal place value) and the player with the highest number wins a point.
  6. After 10 rounds, the player with the most points is the winner of the game.

10. Don’t Break the Bank

Money Activities for Second Grade

Source: Primary Theme Park

Everyone needs to learn how to count money and make change. Use this money game to teach these economic skills.

  1. Use the “Don’t break the bank” free printables from Primary Themepark to create the gameboard and spinner.
  2. Each student spins and places the coins into the middle of the piggy bank.
  3. If the spinner lands on the hammer three times then the game is over. The students work together to count all of the coins and see how much money they were able to earn.
  4. Students can play multiple times to see if they can break their record!

11. Money Uno Game

Play Money Uno & learn money and their values! Both coins and bills. Great for special education.

Source: Breezy Special Ed

Another money learning game, but this one focuses on dollar bills (front and back) as well as money values and coins. You will need to create your own cards for this game or use a printable version found on Teachers Pay Teachers. The game is played just like Uno, but by matching colors of money values.

12. Exponents Game

Fifth Grade Offline games Activities: Exponents Game

Source: Education.com

Exponents can be a tough challenge for students to learn. This game gives them tons of practice working with exponents! This is just a one-person game.

  1. Draw two cards from the deck.
  2. Create a number/exponent problem that forms the highest product.
  3. Solve the problem using a calculator or paper.
  4. See what the biggest product you can get is!

13. Make a Prime

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games

Learning about prime numbers seems like a simple skill, but how many of your students can’t remember this at the end of the school year? Have them play this card game to practice with prime numbers.

  1. Spread out the cards in rows (like a “memory” game)
  2. Players take turns flipping over two cards
  3. If their cards add up to a prime number, the player gets to keep the cards. If not, then the cards are flipped back over and remain in play.

Play continues until there are no more prime matches and the winner is the player with the most pairs.

14. Mean, Median, and Mode Card Game

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games

This is actually 3 games in one that works on all three of these important skills. Take out all face cards for this game. For each game, every player starts with 7 cards and the goal is to score 21 points.

  1. Mean Game: Players find the mean (average) of all of their cards to determine how many points they receive each round.
  2. Median Game: Each player lays out their cards in order from least to greatest and finds the median number to earn that many points.
  3. Mode Game: The students will look for the mode by finding any cards they have more than one of. If there is no number that appears twice, they score a zero. If they have multiple modes, then the modes are added together for their score.

15. Greater Than or Less Than Game

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games

Learning < and > symbols can be difficult for students to remember, but this quick game can be a great reminder to students who are struggling with this skill.

  1. Divide the deck evenly between two players.
  2. Each player flips over their first card and the players place their cards before or after the greater than sign. The player with the higher card gets to keep both cards. Alternatively, play using a less than sign and the player with the lower card gets to keep both cards.
  3. Continue play until all cards have been played. The winner is the student with the most cards.

16. Place Value Game

I Have, Who Has Place Value Game. Awesome freebie!

Source: Playdough to Plato

This hands-on game is a fun way to practice with place value. You’ll need to print (and probably laminate) the cards from Playdough to Plato prior to playing. This game can be played as a whole-class activity or in smaller groups.

  1. Give each kid one card.
  2. Have one random student read their card aloud (i.e. “who has 83)
  3. The student with the matching place value card will go and stand next to their match.

Play continues until all matches have been found.

17. Probability Card Game

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games

Probability is one of the less-taught skills, but one that can be easily used in real-life situations! This card game has students guess the likelihood of choosing certain cards. You will only need Ace to Sixes to play this game.

  1. Spread out the 24 cards on the table.
  2. Each player will take turns choosing 1 card at a time from the 24 cards and writing down each time that they draw an ace. They will get to pick 6 total cards in their turn.
  3. Shuffle the cards and then have each player take their turn drawing 6 cards.
  4. Play 10 rounds and then see who drew the most aces.
  5. Discuss what the probability was each round and how many students beat the odds.

18. Equivalent Fractions

Understanding fractions is a challenge in itself, but learning when fractions are equal can be its own difficulty for students. Print out these fraction cards from You’ve Got This Math and have your students try out this game to practice identifying equivalent fractions.

  1. Deal all the cards to the players.
  2. Each player can place any equivalent fraction cards in front of them.
  3. Students will draw one card from the player to their right. If they can form a match with the new card then they place it in front of them. If not, it is the next player’s turn.
  4. Play continues until the only card left is the “fraction man”. The player who is holding this card loses the game.

19. Target Number

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games

This card game focuses on all four of the basic computational skills. Remove all face cards prior to starting this game.

  1. Each player draws five cards from the deck. The first card drawn is the “target number”.
  2. The goal for each player is to use their other four cards to create an equation that is solved with the “target number”.
  3. Any player that can reach the target number gets a point for the round.
  4. Play until a player scores 7 points and is the winner!

20. Count Your Dots

20 Awesome Ways to Teach Math Through Card Games

Memorizing multiplication facts can be a real struggle for students. This game teaches a strategy for students to use when multiplying when they can’t remember the product of two numbers. Take out the face cards for this game.

  1. Each player draws two cards from the deck.
  2. The players all draw a grid with dots along the columns and rows to solve for the product of the two cards.
  3. Their score for each round is the product of the cards.
  4. Complete 10 rounds and then add up their total scores to see who won the game.

Don’t let math get boring this school year. Start or end a class with a quick card game that will engage students and reinforce all of those skills you have been working so hard to teach them!

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Michael Marcal

Michael Marcal is a special education advocate for parents and a former special education teacher from PreK through 8th Grade in Orlando, Florida. He enjoys baseball, exercising and theme parks! Michael also loves to travel, especially on cruises.

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