## Friday, March 23, 2012

### Playing Card Math

I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:

Playing Cards – Part 1 (Math)

For weeks now, we’ve been looking at board games, but this week, were looking at one of the simplest – and cheapest type of games – playing cards!  My grandmother was a product of the depression and all she had growing up was a deck of cards.  She taught me every card game out there (Here’s a link with rules for lots of games).  These games themselves can be great for teaching strategy and critical thinking, but there are so many other ways to use playing cards in the classroom.  Here are some ways to use playing cards in your math lessons.  For all of these variations, the face cards (Jack, Queen, King, Ace) should either be removed or assigned a value.  For most variations, I use these values: Jack =11, Queen =12, King = 13 and Ace = 1.  For variations that require place value, Ace = 1, Jack = 0, and the King and Queen are wild cards.  Once your class is used to an assigned value, they will readily transfer that value from one card game to another.

1. Play War – Do you remember playing the never ending game of war as a kid?  This simple game is a great way to work on greater than and less than.  Split the deck between two players.  Players keep all cards face down.  Each player flips over a card.  The player with the larger number gets to take both cards.  Continue until someone runs out of cards.  The person who runs out of cards loses.  (If both cards are the same, you can either have the kids do a “war” with extra cards, or you can have them place the cards in “jail” and keep them out of play.)

2. Line them Up – In this game, each player gets seven cards.  Once all cards are dealt, the students should race to get them lined up from largest to smallest.  The first person to get them in line gets a point.

3. Add them Up – This is a variation on war - Split the deck between two players. Players keep all cards face down. Each player flips over a card. Both players look at the cards and try to add the values in their head.  The first person to get the right answer gets to take both cards. Continue until someone runs out of cards. The person who runs out of cards loses.

4. Multiply - This is a variation on war - Split the deck between two players. Players keep all cards face down. Each player flips over a card. Both players look at the cards and try to multiply the values in their head. The first person to get the right answer gets to take both cards. Continue until someone runs out of cards. The person who runs out of cards loses.
5. Make the Biggest or Smallest Number – Each player takes 5 cards.  The players then race to see who can make the biggest number, or the smallest number – depending on the ability of your students.  I have a mat that I use when I put this into centers, so that it is easier for my students.  Grab a free copy of the mat from Google Docs by clicking on the picture.
6.  Category  - Each player takes 6 cards.  The students group their cards into 2 categories.  For lower level students, assign the categories (odd & even, greater than 5 & less than 5, multiples of 3 and non multiples).  For higher level students, let them decide their own categories, but they must be able to justify them.
7.  Describe Your Number  - Each player takes 1 card.  They then must come up with 5 ways to show or describe their number.  (ie.  If the card they draw is 6, their ways could be: 2 x 3, half a dozen, 5 + 1, 10 – 4, six, or seize).
8.  Make Your Own Problem – Each player takes 4 to 6 cards and uses their cards to make an addition, subtraction or multiplication problem.  Then, they challenge their partner to answer the problem they have created.  Each round the creator and the answerer change places.  I have a mat that I use when I put this into centers, so that it s easier for my students.  Grab a free copy of the mat from Google Docs by clicking on the picture.

I hope some of these suggestions will help you use playing cards to teach math in a new and interesting way.  Click HERE for more suggestions on how to use board games in the classroom.