Education

28 Card Games That Will Turn Your Students Into Math Aces

Need a way to get students more excited about building math skills? A deck of playing cards might just be the answer. These math card games work for little ones and older kids alike, and they’re all free to learn and play. Draw a few to add to your winning math class hand today!

1. Match to make eleven

Lay out three rows of three cards each, face up. Then check to see if you can find any two cards that add up to eleven. If so, remove those cards and set aside. Replace them with new cards from the deck. Continue until you run out of cards or can’t make any more matches.

Learn more: Game Rules

2. Race to 100

Playing cards with pen and paper on which is written a running total for Player 1

Flip a card and add its value to your running total. First person to reach 100 without going over wins! (Remove face cards for younger players; use these values for older kids: Jack-11, Queen-12, King-13, Ace-0.)

Learn more: 123Homeschool4Me

3. Play a game of 21

Playing cards laid out face up on a table

In Vegas, they call this one “Blackjack,” but it makes a great learning game for kids too (no need to place bets). Not only do they practice their addition skills, but they’ll also get a little practice at thinking logically and calculating the odds.

Learn more: Planning With Kids

4. Try pyramid solitaire alone or in teams

Math Card Games Multiplication dot com

Some versions of solitaire are really just sneaky math card games, and pyramid is one of them. Try to find cards that add up to 10 as you clear your pyramid row by row. Learn how to play at the link below.

Learn more: Multiplication.com

5. Flip and add one or subtract one!

Child flipping a playing card from a deck (Math Card Games)

There are a few versions of this basic addition and subtraction game. We like this one: Remove the face cards from the deck. Flip a card. If it’s red, add one and say the amount out loud. If it’s black, subtract one. Get it right? You get to keep the card!

Learn more: Plus One Minus One/Creative Family Fun

6. Go fish for pairs that make 10

Student holding playing cards with two cards adding up to 10 laid face up on the table

Your students probably already know how to play Go Fish, but in this version, they’re fishing for pairs that add up to 10. Have them ask: “I have a 2. Do you have an 8 to make 10?” Change aces to 1 for this game and leave face cards out entirely.

Learn more: Go Fish/The First Grade Roundup

7. Calculate the gain or loss

Printable worksheet for Gain and Loss math card game

Each player starts with 15 points. Player one flips a card (remove face cards or assign them point values first). If the card is black, they add it to their total. If it’s red, they subtract it. Highest point total when all the cards are gone wins! Get a free printable worksheet to use with this game at the link.

Learn more: Guided Math

8. Practice counting on with cards

Student with a deck of cards and die

Remove the face cards for this one, and grab a die. Players flip a card and roll the die. Starting with the number on the card, they “count on” using the number on the die. For instance, if the player flips a 7 and rolls a 4, they would say, “Seven… eight, nine, ten, eleven.” If they get it correct, they keep the card.

Learn more: Creative Family Fun

9. Turnover and multiply (or add)

Two playing cards shown face up (Math Card Games)

This one is so simple! Have students pair up. One person flips two cards from the deck. The first student to multiply (or add, depending on what you want to practice) them correctly and call out the answer wins and takes both cards. Play continues until all the cards are gone, and the winner is the one with the most cards.

Learn more: Turnover/Top Notch Teaching

10. Try for a total of 10

Playing cards laid out face up with some grouped to add up to 10

Play this math card game alone or as a team. Lay out 20 cards on the table (leave out face cards or change them to equal 0, while aces equal 1). Kids remove sets of cards that add up to 10, ultimately trying to remove all the cards from the table. It’s harder than you think!

Learn more: Total of 10/The First Grade Roundup

11. Practice number sequencing with “builder’s paradise”

Playing cards laid out face up (Math Card Games)

Simple math card games can help kids learn how to put numbers in order. To play builder’s paradise, discard the face cards and lay out the 4 sevens in a deck side by side. In each round, players work to add the next higher or lower number in each suit, trying to be the first to get rid of all their cards. Get the full how-to at the link below.

Learn more: Builder’s Paradise/Math Geek Mama

12. Add decimals to “make a buck”

Student holding a selection of playing cards (Math Card Games)

Draw, swap, and discard to make a hand that equals $1. Learn what face cards equal and get all the rules at the link.

Learn more: Make a Buck/Math Geek Mama

13. Declare a fraction war

Two sets of playing cards laid out with pencils to create fractions

War is one of the original math card games, but this version adds a fraction aspect. Students deal two cards, a numerator and denominator, then determine whose fraction is the largest. The winner keeps all four cards, and play continues until the cards are gone. (Click here for more fun and free fraction games.)

Learn more: Math File Folder Games

14. Learn numbers with card bingo

Playing cards laid out in rows, with some face up and some face down (Math Card Games)

Remove the face cards and have each student lay out a 4 x 4 playing “board” of cards. The remaining cards (or another deck) are placed face down, and a caller flips over a card. Any player who has that number on their board turns the card face down. Play continues until one player has a row flipped over horizontally, vertically, or diagonally and calls “Bingo!”

Learn more: Card Bingo/Top Notch Teaching

15. Play a game of “I Spy”

Playing cards laid out face up in four rows of four, with a deck next to it (Math Card Games)

Lay out cards on the table, then take turns giving clues. “I spy two cards that add up to 12.” Differentiate for younger kids with options like, “I spy a card that’s less than 4,” or for older ones: “I spy two cards that are factors of 12.”

Learn more: Susan Jones’ Teaching

16. Use order of operations to get to 24

Playing cards laid out to create a math equation with multiplication, division, and parentheses

Math card games aren’t just for little kids; even adults will find this one a bit tricky. Each player is dealt four cards, then uses the order-of-operations rules to try to make a number as close to 24 as possible. Simple but challenging!

Learn more: Learn With Math Games

17. Take a gamble with triple-digit dare

Playing cards laid out on place value mat with sections for ones, tenths, and hundredths

Each player gets three cards and privately determines the highest three-digit number they can make (you can use decimals or not, depending on age). Then, each player has a turn to stick with the cards they have, swap with one from the deck, or steal one of the other player’s. All players then lay down their best number to see who wins. See more at the link below.

Learn more: Math Coach’s Corner

18. Deal and round to tens to win

Playing cards laid out on printable worksheet called Round to the Nearest Ten (Math Card Games)

Each player deals two cards and lays them on the board. Then, round to the nearest ten to find the winner of that hand.

Learn more: Adventures in Third Grade

19. Find a way to make 10

Student using playing cards and free printable worksheet to play Make Ten

One of the terrific things about math card games is that many of them can be customized for various concepts and skill levels. The original goal of this game was to look at the cards you’re dealt to find ones that add up to 10, but it can be changed to 15, 20, or any number you choose. You can also add to the difficulty by allowing addition and subtraction (for example, you could use 8+4=12 and 12-2=10). Get the rules and free printable mats at the link below.

Learn more: Mama.Papa.Bubba

20. Use Close Call to practice two-digit addition or subtraction

Playing cards with printable worksheet for math card games

The best math card games are simple at heart. To play Close Call, each player deals themselves four cards, then determines how to arrange them so they make two two-digit numbers that add up as close as possible to 100 without going over. For a subtraction version, work to get as close to zero as possible. Learn how to play at the link.

Learn more: Close Call/Math Geek Mama

21. Let card color indicate negative or positive

Student holding playing cards

In this game, red cards are negative integers, while black cards are positive. Students attempt to play pairs of cards that total 6 or -6. You can change the goal number as needed.

Learn more: Filing the Frame With Learning

22. Take a trip around the card spiral to practice math facts

Playing cards laid out face up in a spiral with dice

You’ll need a pair of dice for this math card game. Lay cards out randomly in a spiral formation as shown, and set a marker for each player on the center card. Player one rolls the dice then moves their piece that number of spaces shown. They then must multiply (or add or subtract, depending on preferences) the card number by the number on the dice. If they get the answer correct, they stay where they are. If not, they return to their original card. Play continues until one player reaches the end.

Learn more: My Baba

23. Flip to make a prime number

Playing cards laid face down, with a five and eight face up (Math Card Games)

Flip two cards. If you can add, subtract, or multiply them to make a prime number (use one or all of these operations), you get to keep them.

Learn more: Flip for Prime/Games4Learning

24. Be the fastest in the race to pi

Student laying out playing cards to represent the digits of pi

In this game, kids work to lay out the digits of pi in order. It’s a simple draw-and-play game, but will help familiarize students with this important number. You can write out the digits first or see who knows them from memory. Find out how to play at the link below.

Learn more: Race to Pi/Math Geek Mama

25. Pick three to make number sentences

Playing cards laid out face down with three cards turned face up

Flip any three cards. If you can use them to form a valid number sentence (8-3=5), you keep the cards!

Learn more: Number Sentences/Games4Learning

26. Do some basic fast facts practice

Two decks of cards with two cards laying face up (Math Card Games)

Give your flashcards a rest and practice facts with math card games instead. Simply lay down two cards from the deck (remove the face cards first) and add, subtract, or multiply them. Kids can work on this alone, or you can make it a contest to see who can call out the correct answer first.

Learn more: Math Facts/Top Notch Teaching

27. Challenge them to beat the teacher

Four playing cards above a chart of place values

Practice place value by drawing cards and trying to build the largest number possible. Kids play against the teacher to see who wins! Get the rules at the link below. (Find more fun place value activities here.)

Learn more: The Teaching Love Fest/TpT

28. Read minds to figure out the correct numbers

2 stick figures holding cards up to their foreheads, with a third saying "The product is 21." (Math Card Games)

Two students draw a card from the deck without looking and hold it up to their forehead facing out. A third student mentally multiplies the numbers and gives them the product. The students then must figure out what number each is holding. You can do this with addition and subtraction too. You’ll find this game along with dozens of other math card games in the free printable book at the link below.

Learn more: Acing Math (PDF)

If your students like math card games, try these dice games that teachers and students will love!

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28 Math Card Games That Turn Students into Aces


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