Are you after some more fun math card games that you can use with your first-grade or fourth-grade students?
Maybe you’re teaching your kids about problem solving or you would like to develop their number work. I find math card games are a fantastic way for kids to practice and consolidate math skills but in a non-threatening and highly motivational way.
6 fun math card games
Whether you’re looking for some easy card games to provide consolidation of a concept you have already taught, or even as a way to emphasize number facts; I’m sharing my top 6 math games with cards.
I spy with my little eye
This card game is for two players. You will need one deck of cards with the picture cards removed (40 cards remaining).
- The cards are dealt face up in an array, either a 10 x 4 or 8 x 5 array.
- The first player challenges the other one to find two cards next to each other that add to make a particular number. The first player says, “I spy with my little eye two cards that add to make ______.”
- The second player then looks for 2 cards that add to make the number. The two cards to be added need to be next to each other either horizontally or vertically. The player then picks the cards up to add them to their pile. They do this with any other pairs that add to make the number as well.
- If the second player misses any pairs that add to the number, then player one may claim them.
- The players alternate taking turns and continue until all the cards are gone.
- The winner is the player with the most cards at the end of the game.
- As large gaps appear in the array, move the cards closer together to fill those gaps.
- You could change the operation that students use, for example, multiplication or subtraction.
- Allow your students to add three numbers together.
- You could also allow students to add pairs of cards diagonally.
First to add it up
This card game is suitable for 2 – 4 players. You will need one deck of cards and pencil and paper to keep track of each player’s scores. In this game, picture cards = 10 and ace = 1.
- Shuffle the cards and have them in the center facing down.
- One player draws 3 cards from the deck and lays them face up in the middle.
- Players must add the 3 cards to find the total. The first player to call the total of the 3 cards is awarded that number of points.
- No points are awarded for an incorrect answer.
- Play continues with each player having a turn at revealing the 3 cards.
- The winner is the player with the highest number of points when all cards have been turned over.
- You could draw any number of cards, for example 2, 4 or even 5.
- Use multiplication instead of addition.
This card game is suitable for 2 players. You will need one deck of cards with the picture cards removed. In this game aces = 1.
- Deal out half the cards to each player with the cards facing down in a pile.
- Both players take the card on the top of their pile and lay it face up in the middle.
- The first player to call out the product of the two cards wins both cards.
- If it is a draw the cards are left on the table. Turn 2 more cards over and whichever player wins, picks up all the cards in the middle.
- The winner is the player with the most cards once all the card have been used.
- You could also use addition or subtraction.
- If you are just introducing multiplication to your students you could remove the cards that are beyond their ability at the moment, such as 7, 8 or 9.
This card game is suitable for a small group. You will need two decks of cards. Remove the picture cards from both decks.
- Each player is dealt 16 cards. They must place the cards facing up in a 4 x 4 array.
- The rest of the cards are face down in the middle.
- One player takes on the role of the caller. That player flips a card over from the pile in the middle and calls out the number of the card, e.g. 6.
- If the card called out matches one in the player’s array, that player turns that card over so it is facing down. It doesn’t matter what suit the card is.
- The first player to turn 4 cards over in a row, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, is the winner.
Counting on card game
This is a card game for 2 players. You will need a deck of cards with the picture cards removed (Jack, Queen, King, Joker). The ace can be used as a 1 in this game.
- Separate the cards into two piles, one with the cards: ace, 2, 3 and 4 and the other pile with the cards 5 – 10.
- Shuffle each pile so they’re in a random order and place face down on the playing surface.
- Players take turns turning over the top two cards. They add the two numbers using the counting on strategy: count on from the larger number, and count on the smaller number. For example, if the two cards turned over were 8 and 4. They would start with 8, count on 4: 9, 10, 11, 12.
- If players have the correct answer, they get to keep both cards.
- If the answer is incorrect the other player can have a go at answering the question to keep both the cards.
- Continue play until one of the piles run out of cards.
- The winner is the player with the most cards at the end of the game.
Place value cards
This is a card game for 2 players or a small group. You will need a deck of cards with the 10s and picture cards removed. The ace can be used as a 1 in this game. You will also need a sheet of paper split into 4 columns labeled thousands, hundreds, tens and ones.
- One student shuffles the deck of cards and places it in the middle face down.
- Players take turns to pick a card from the top of the deck and turn it over.
- The player must decide where to place the card, either in the ones, tens, hundreds or thousands place. They add the card to the column on their sheet of paper. The card is to be placed before another card is drawn from the deck.
- Players keep adding cards to their sheet of paper until all columns are filled in. The winner is the player who produces the largest number.
- In the example below 5 631 was produced using the cards, 5, 6, 3 and Ace. The best number that could have been formed was 6 5 31.
- You could make larger or small numbers depending on the level of your students.
- Use numbers with decimals.
- Incorporate a scoring system.
More fun math games and activities
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning some new fun math card games. And if you’re after even more ideas, then check out my Bumper Book of Math Games and Activities. You’ll get more than 138 pages of math strategies, games and activities. It’s suitable for students in grades 1 – 4, contains easy to follow information and instructions and can be used with individuals, small groups, or your whole class.
Take a look at some of the great feedback for this resource
“Awesome resource, covers a huge amount of our maths curriculum. Thank you!”
“Such a great resource to use in my classroom – so many different ideas, thank you!x”
“Terrific resource.. all those great teaching points and understandings with activities and games to match. Thanks.”
“Everything sorted for maths rotations, thanks!”
Click here to grab your copy of the math eBook.
These games look great. I can’t wait to use them.
Any time you can use common household tools (like a deck of cards) to promote math skill practice, the easier it is for students to bring the practice home. These suggestions are great!
Furthermore, classics like Go Fish and War can be modified to teach essential skills like number sense, inequalities, mental math, and fractions as well. A big plus is that family members at home are likely to already be familiar with the rules!
Excellent ideas! I’d like to show my kids and I playing some of these games in Spanish on my YouTube Channel. (My channel is new and tiny.) I can’t wait to get started!
This my first time to join others whose been here before me. I had a student to whom I had learn to use braille. We’re live in the Island where resources are rare or limited. Furthermore students who needs braille are few, therefor, we’re only depend on what has been given to us through Republic of Palau Special Education Program provided a help from Unite. So thank you very, very much from our beautiful Republic Of Palau.