Math Card Games
Math Card Games
These math card games are intended to help build fluency in math in a fun and engaging way.
Here you’ll find the rules and instructions for a wide range of math skills games using any
standard deck of playing cards.
For a great counting and numeric table game, try One More, One Fewer. For a game to help
students develop efficient addition subtraction strategies, check out Make Ten. To build fluency
with order of operations, try Hit the Target. And for all kinds of math exercises, have a look at
the several number battle games throughout.
ONE MORE, ONE FEWER
2 PLAYERS GRADES K+
This game, which is sometimes called “Speed,” works on fluency in counting
forward and backward. This is not a “taking turns” style of game, but rather a
speed-based game, in which each player tries to play his cards as fast as he can.
As players become more and more fluent in their play, they play their cards in
rapid succession.
Preparing to play

Shuffle the full deck of cards. Place two cards face down in the playing area (next to each other,
with at least a card width’s space in between). Each of the two cards should be within equal reach
of the two players.

The suits hold no importance in this game, only the numbers matter.

Divide the remaining cards evenly between the two players. Players pick up five cards from their
own pile to hold in their hand and leave the rest of their cards in one pile face down in front of
them.

When both players are ready, each player turns over one of the two cards in the playing area, so
that both cards are now face up, forming the two “playing piles.”
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Playing the game

Either player can play a card from his hand onto either of the two playing piles in the center, at
any time, by placing a card that is either one more than, or one fewer than, the card that is on
the top of that pile. So for example, if the top cards are currently a King and an Eight, only
a Ace or an Queen can be played on the King, and only a Seven or a Nine can be played on
the Eight.

An Ace is treated as both greater than a King and less than a Two; thus it can be played on
a King or a Two.

Each player can only pick up and play from the five cards in his hand. Each time he plays a
card, he can pick up the next card in his pile and place it into his hand.

A player can only lay down one card at a time, so for example, if there is a Three on the playing
field and he holds in his hand aTwo, a Three, and another Two, he has to take the time to lay
the cards down individually, not as a compact stack of three cards.

If there is a stall in the game, when neither player can play, there are two options. The first
option is that each player can take the top card off his own pile and place it face up on one of
the two playing piles to reset the playing piles. The second option is that each playing pile can
be picked up, stacked neatly, and placed face down on the side of the playing area. The players
can then pull a card off the top of each of those piles and place them face up to reset the
playing piles. Players can draw from those piles on the side each time there is a stall in the
game.
WINNING THE GAME THE FIRST PLAYER TO PLAY ALL THE CARDS IN THEIR PILE WINS.
2
MAKE TEN
PLAYERS GRADES K+
This game works on students’ fluency with identifying number compositions that
make 10.
Preparing to play

Remove the Tens, Jacks, Queens, and Kings from the deck, leaving only Ace through Nines, and
shuffle the remaining cards.

The suits hold no importance in this game; only the numbers matter.

Lay out 10 cards face up, non-overlapping, in a single row.
Playing the game

Players look at the cards in front of them, searching for a pair that combine to make 10. When a
player finds such a pair, she says aloud, “I made 10!”

Play pauses while the player pulls the two cards she found, allows the other player to confirm that
she has indeed made 10, and places the two cards in front of her.

Two new cards are dealt and play resumes.

Play continues until all the cards have been dealt and all combinations that make 10 have been
found.
WINNING THE GAME THE PLAYER WHO FOUND THE MOST PAIRS THAT MAKE 10 WINS THE
GAME.
3
BASIC NUMBER BATTLE
2 PLAYERS GRADES K+
This is the classic card game commonly called “War.” It works on students’
fluency in comparing two numbers.
Preparing to play

Shuffle the entire deck of cards.

The Ace holds a value of 1, the Jack holds a value of 11, the Queen holds a value of 12, and
the King holds a value of 13. Alternatively, face cards can hold the value of the math fact family
players are working on, e.g., 4s, 6s, 9s, etc. The suits hold no importance in this game; only the
numbers matter.

Decide how long the game will last and set a timer. Alternatively, play can continue until one
player surrenders or until one player holds all the cards.

Divide the cards evenly between the players. Each player keeps his cards in a single pile, face
down.
Playing the game

Each player picks a card off the top of his pile and places it face up in the middle of the playing
area for all to see. The player with the card of the greatest value takes both the cards played and
places them at the bottom of his own pile.

If both cards played have the same value, a battle ensues – each player places three cards face
down in the playing area, followed by a new card face up. The player whose new face-up card has
the greatest value collects all the cards in the playing area, placing them at the bottom of his own
pile.
WINNING THE GAME THE PLAYER WHO HAS THE MOST CARDS AT THE END OF THE
DESIGNATED TIME PERIOD WINS THE GAME.
4
PLACE VALUE NUMBER BATTLE
2 PLAYERS GRADES 2+
This is a variation of Basic Number Battle that reinforces understanding of place
value, as it calls on students to form the largest number possible with the cards
they’ve played.
Preparing to play

Remove the Tens, Jacks, Queens, and Kings from the deck, leaving only Ace through Nines, and
shuffle the remaining cards.

The Ace holds a value of 1. The suits hold no importance in this game; only the numbers matter.

Decide whether to play the game in the tens, hundreds, or thousands.

Decide how long the game will last and set a timer. Alternatively, play can continue until one
player surrenders or until one player holds all the cards.

Divide the cards evenly between the players. Each player keeps her cards in a single pile, face
down.
Playing the game

Each player picks the designated number of cards off the top of her pile (2 cards if playing in the
tens, 3 if playing in the hundreds, 4 if playing in the thousands), and places them face up in the
middle of the playing area for all to see.

Each player arranges her cards to form the greatest-value number possible. (Optionally, provide a
sheet of paper for each student that provides a labeled spot for the ones place, the tens place
etc.) When the players are finished with arranging their cards and each says “ready,” the player
who has made the number with the greatest value takes all the cards played and places them at
the bottom of her own pile.

If the two players have created numbers with the same value, a battle ensues – each player
places three cards face down in the playing area, followed by a new set of cards face up, and
works to arrange the new face-up cards to create a number with the greatest value. The player
whose new number has the greatest value collects all the cards in the playing area, placing them
at the bottom of her own pile.
WINNING THE GAME THE PLAYER WHO HAS THE MOST CARDS AT THE END OF THE
DESIGNATED TIME PERIOD WINS THE GAME.
5
ADDITION NUMBER BATTLE
2 PLAYERS GRADES 2+
This is a variation of Basic Number Battle that reinforces addition skills.
Preparing to play

Shuffle the entire deck of cards.

The Ace holds a value of 1, the Jack holds a value of 11, the Queen holds a value of 12, and
the King holds a value of 13. The suits hold no importance in this game; only the numbers matter.

Decide how long the game will last and set a timer. Alternatively, play can continue until one
player surrenders or until one player holds all the cards.

Divide the cards evenly between the players. Each player keeps his cards in a single pile, face
down.

Optionally, give each student a piece of scratch paper and a pencil.
Playing the game

Each player picks two cards off the top of his pile and places them face up in the middle of the
playing area for all to see.

Each player adds the values of his cards to compute their total value and states the value out
loud. Each player then checks the other’s sum for correctness. The player whose cards form the
greatest sum takes all the cards played and places them at the bottom of his own pile.

If the two players have played cards with the same sum, a battle ensues – each player places
three cards face down in the playing area, followed by a new pair of cards face up, and adds the
values of his two new face-up cards to find their sum. The player whose new cards form the
greatest sum collects all the cards in the playing area, placing them at the bottom of his own pile.
WINNING THE GAME THE PLAYER WHO HAS THE MOST CARDS AT THE END OF THE
DESIGNATED TIME PERIOD WINS THE GAME.
6
MULTIPLICATION NUMBER BATTLE
2 PLAYERS GRADES 3+
This is a variation of Basic Number Battle that reinforces multiplication skills.
Preparing to play

Optionally, remove the highest-value cards to reduce the difficulty. Shuffle the remaining cards.

The Ace holds a value of 1, the Jack holds a value of 11, the Queen holds a value of 12, and
the King holds a value of 13. The suits hold no importance in this game; only the numbers matter.

Decide how long the game will last and set a timer. Alternatively, play can continue until one
player surrenders or until one player holds all the cards.

Divide the cards evenly between the players. Each player keeps her cards in a single pile, face
down.

Optionally, give each student a piece of scratch paper and a pencil.
Playing the game

Each player picks two cards off the top of her pile and places them face up in the middle of the
playing area for all to see.

Each player multiplies the values of her cards to compute a product and states the value of the
product out loud. Each player then checks the other’s multiplication for correctness. The player
whose cards form the greatest product takes all the cards played and places them at the bottom
of her own pile.

If the two players have played cards with the same product, a battle ensues – each player places
three cards face down in the playing area, followed by a new pair of cards face up, and multiplies
the values of her two new face-up cards to find their product. The player whose new cards form
the greatest product collects all the cards in the playing area, placing them at the bottom of her
own pile.
WINNING THE GAME THE PLAYER WHO HAS THE MOST CARDS AT THE END OF THE
DESIGNATED TIME PERIOD WINS THE GAME.
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FRACTION NUMBER BATTLE - FRACTIONS LESS THAN 1
2 PLAYERS GRADES 4+
This is a variation of Basic Number Battle that builds student fluency in
comparison of fractions less than 1.
Preparing to play

Optionally, remove cards (such as Jacks and Kings) to limit the difficulty. Shuffle the remaining
cards.

The Ace holds a value of 1, the Jack holds a value of 11, the Queen holds a value of 12, and
the King holds a value of 13. The suits hold no importance in this game; only the numbers matter.

Decide how long the game will last and set a timer. Alternatively, play can continue until one
player surrenders or until one player holds all the cards.

Divide the cards evenly between the players. Each player keeps his cards in a single pile, face
down.

Give each student a piece of scratch paper and a pencil.
Playing the game

Each player picks two cards off the top of his pile and places them face up in the middle of the
playing area for all to see.

Each player arranges his cards as a fraction, using the smaller of the two cards as the numerator
and the larger as the denominator. Each player calls out the value of his fraction. The player
whose fraction has the greatest value takes all the cards played and places them at the bottom of
his own pile.

If the two players have created fractions with equal value, a battle ensues – each player places
three cards face down in the playing area, followed by a new pair of cards face up, forming a new
fraction with the cards. The player whose new fraction has the greatest value collects all the cards
in the playing area, placing them at the bottom of his own pile.
WINNING THE GAME THE PLAYER WHO HAS THE MOST CARDS AT THE END OF THE
DESIGNATED TIME PERIOD WINS THE GAME.
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FRACTION NUMBER BATTLE - FRACTIONS GREATER
THAN 1
2 PLAYERS GRADES 4+
This is a variation of Basic Number Battle that builds student fluency in
comparison of fractions greater than 1.
Preparing to play

Optionally, remove cards (such as Jacks and Kings) to limit the difficulty. Shuffle the remaining
cards.

The Ace holds a value of 1, the Jack holds a value of 11, the Queen holds a value of 12, and
the King holds a value of 13. The suits hold no importance in this game; only the numbers matter.

Decide how long the game will last and set a timer. Alternatively, play can continue until one
player surrenders or until one player holds all the cards.

Divide the cards evenly between the players. Each player keeps her cards in a single pile, face
down.

Give each student a piece of scratch paper and a pencil.
Playing the game

Each player picks two cards off the top of her pile and places them face up in the middle of the
playing area for all to see.

Each player arranges her cards as a fraction. This time students are allowed to use either card as
the numerator with the goal of forming a fraction with the greatest possible value. The player
whose fraction has the greatest value takes all the cards played and places them at the bottom of
her own pile.

If the two players have created fractions with equal value, a battle ensues – each player places
three cards face down in the playing area, followed by a new pair of cards face up, and places the
two new cards to form a fraction of the greatest possible value. The player whose new fraction has
the greatest value collects all the cards in the playing area, placing them at the bottom of her own
pile.
WINNING THE GAME THE PLAYER WHO HAS THE MOST CARDS AT THE END OF THE
DESIGNATED TIME PERIOD WINS THE GAME.
9
HIT THE TARGET
2 TO 4 PLAYERS GRADES 4+
This game builds students’ fluency with the four basic operations and the order of
operations, and exercises their mathematical reasoning skills.
Preparing to play

Shuffle the entire deck of cards.

The Ace holds a value of 1, the Jack holds a value of 11, the Queen holds a value of 12, and
the King holds a value of 13. The suits hold no importance in this game; only the numbers matter.

Select a player to be the first dealer.

Provide the group with means of timing the game’s rounds at 2 minutes each.

Provide each student with a piece of paper and a pencil to write her expressions and tally her
score.

Decide how the game will end – after a designated number of rounds, or after a designated time
period.
Playing the game

The dealer selects a target number between 1 and 30, lays out five cards face up, and sets the
timer for 2 minutes.

Using those five cards, each player works to form expressions that equate to the target number,
writing each one down and calling it aloud once found. The more cards a player uses in her
expression, the more points she earns; 1 card = 1 point, 2 cards = 2 points, etc. Once the
expression is identified by a player, it cannot be reused by other players during that round.

At the end of the round each player tallies her score for that round. The player with the highest
score from the round serves as dealer for the next round, choosing the new target number,
dealing the next five cards, and setting the timer.
WINNING THE GAME AT THE END OF THE GAME, STUDENTS TALLY THEIR SCORES FROM EACH
ROUND. THE PLAYER WITH THE HIGHEST TOTAL SCORE WINS.
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