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.

Fast Fact Superstars

Well, we’ve finished our unit on addition & subtraction, but of course my kids haven’t mastered their facts with automaticity.  So, I’m implementing this simple and easy fast fact quiz system.  My kids take a addition quiz every day , and they have exactly one minute to answer 20 questions.  They start with the O’s and 1’s test and once they have accomplished this, they move on and one until they hit the 10’s test.  (Then, they start over with subtraction!)

I created this cute little way to chart their results, which hangs on my door and helps me to decorate too!!  (I’m not great at creating those cute room decorations!)  I didn’t want anything where I had to cut out a bunch of stuff – as I’m cutting out self correcting puzzles and word wall cards on a regular basis.  So – I had the kids decorate and cut out their own name tags, and then when they get 100% on their test, they get to color and cut out their star, and all I have to do is tape it to the door!  How easy is that?  Grab a copy of this Basic Fact Reward System on TPT for FREE.  There are also moons (which I’m going to use for subtraction facts, since I have one student who will be done with all of her stars before some of my other students get one star!), clouds, and suns in the packet.  You could easily use this same system with multiplication and division facts if you teach higher grades.

Leave me a comment and tell me how YOU practice those basic facts with your students!

Roll Up Math Skills with Yahtzee!

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:

Yahtzee – Part 1

One of my favorite games growing up was Yahtzee, and I was super excited when my oldest son was old enough to learn how to play it!  It can be such an educational game, and so, I thought it was the perfect game to feature as my second board game for Game Night Fridays!  (The first game was Chutes and Ladders, click here if you missed it!)  Here are four ways to use Yahtzee to teach math skills.  Check back next Friday to see my four ideas for how to use Yahtzee to teach literacy skills.

1. Standard Play – Yahtzee has so much math built into it, that simply playing the game with your class will work on math skills.  Not only can you work on strategy, problem solving and decision making, but you can work on addition, multiplication, comparing numbers and probability all simply playing Yahtzee by the rules provided in the game.

2. Dice Graphing – Rather than play with the whole Yahtzee score card, play simply with the upper section of the game card.  Have each player role just one time and mark how many of each die they roll.  Then, create a graph with the ready made table that the score card provides you.

3. Best Set – Rather than play with the whole Yahtzee score card, play simply with the 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind and Yahtzee sections.  Encourage students to try to get a 3 of a kind with a different number than their classmates.  After everyone has one 3 of a kind, one 4 of a kind and one Yahtzee, compare scores.  Discuss the fact that using 4 sixes gives you a much better score than using 4 ones.  Great time to compare addition and multiplication too!

4. Straight to Order – Rather than play with the whole score card, play simply with the small straight and the large straight.  Talk about the different ways to make a small straight.  Talk about ordering numbers and using the ordinal names of numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.)

I hope some of these suggestions will allow you to use Yahtzee in a new, interesting way in your classrooms. Keep playing games and watch your kids learn!