# Math Card Games

```Math Games with Cards and Dice
presented at NAGC
November, 2013
Math Games for Serious Minds”
Rande McCreight
Lincoln Public Schools
Math Games with Cards
Close to 20 - Grades 1-2
Players: 2 or more
Materials: Deck of cards, face cards removed, Ace worth 1
How to play: Deal 5 cards to each player. Player chooses three cards that when
added together get as close to 20 as possible. The player writes down his score as the
distance his cards leave him from 20…i.e., if his cards equal 18, his score is 2. If they
equal 22, his score is 4. At the end of several rounds, the player with the lowest score
wins.
Close to 100 - Grades 1-3
Players: 2 or more
Materials: Deck of cards, face cards removed, Ace worth 1
How to play: Deal 6 cards to each player. Player chooses any four of his cards to
make two numbers that when added together get as close to 100 as possible. The
player writes down his score as the difference between his cards and 100…i.e., if he
makes 36 and 62 with his cards, they equal 98. His score is 2, the difference between
his sum and 100. At the end of several rounds, the player with the lowest score wins.
Close to 1000 - Grades 1-3
Players: 2 or more
Materials: Deck of cards, face cards removed, Ace worth 1
How to play: Deal 6 cards to each player. Player uses these cards to make two (2) 3digit numbers that when added together come close to 1000. The player writes down
his score as the difference between his total and 1000…i.e., if he makes 365 and 642
with his cards, they equal 1,007. His score is 7, the difference between his sum and
1000. At the end of several rounds, the player with the lowest score wins.
Close to 0 - Grades 1-3
Players: 2 or more
Materials: Deck of cards, face cards removed, Ace worth 1
Skill: Subtraction
How to play: Deal 8 cards to each player. Player chooses any 6 cards to make two (2)
3-digit numbers that when subtracted, give you a difference that s close to 0. The
player writes down his score as the difference between his total and 0. For example, if
you choose 6, 6, 5, 2, 4, 7, you could make 652-647 = 5. This player’s score is 5. At
the end of several rounds, the player with the lowest score wins.
I Spy Sums - Grades 1 – 3
Players: Groups of two or more
Materials: Deck of cards, Ace worth 11, Jack worth 12, Queen worth 13, King worth
14, scratch paper
How to Play: Deal out the entire deck of cards face up in a 13 X 4 array.
One player challenges the other player to find two cards next to each other,
either vertically or horizontally, that add to make a number by saying, “I spy two
cards with a sum of 7.”
The other player then looks for two cards that add to make the sum then picks
this pair up and any other pair(s) that add to make the stated sum.
If the second player misses any pair(s) that add to the chosen sum, then the first player
may claim them. Players swap roles and continue until the table is cleared. The winner
is the player with the most cards at the end of the game. As large gaps appear the size
of the array may be reduced to help fill the gaps.
Finders Keepers - Grades 1 - 5
Players: Groups of two or more
Materials: Deck of cards, Ace worth 11, Jack worth 12, Queen worth 13, King worth 14
Skill: Addition, subtraction, number recognition, sequence, and order
How to Play: Players split a deck of cards evenly amongst all players. The
players cannot look at their cards. Each player takes turns flipping one card from
their pile and placing it in the center of table. The goal of the game is to find one
of the following rules:
One More Rule: Players may grab the pile if the top card played on the pile is
one more than the previous card. First player to find the rule can grab the center
pile.
Same Number Rule: Players may grab the pile if the top card played on the pile
is equal to the previous card. First player to find the rule can grab the center pile.
One Less Rule: Players may grab the pile if the top card played on the pile is
one less than the previous card. First player to find the rule can grab the center
pile.
Double It Rule: Players may grab the pile if the top card played on the pile is
double the previous card. First player to find the rule can grab the center pile.
If a player makes an illegal grab, they have to give two cards to the bottom of the
center pile. If player makes a legal grab, they get all the cards in the center pile.
The player that collects all 52 cards, or no more rules can be found, wins!
Players: Groups of three (groups of four or five for more advanced)
Materials: Deck of cards, aces and face cards removed
How to Play: In this game for three players, one student is the leader and the other two
The two players each draw a card and, without looking at it, hold it up to their foreheads
so that everyone else can see it, but not themselves.
The leader announces the sum of the two cards. Each “mind reader” must figure out
which card is on his or her own forehead and say it aloud. When both “mind readers”
have figured out their cards, a new leader is chosen and the game continues.
round.
Over-Under - Grades 3 - 6
Players: Groups of two
Materials: Deck of cards with face cards removed, Aces worth one
Skill: Multiplication
How to Play: Players split a deck of cards. One player is the Under 30 player and the
other is the Over 30 player.
Player 1: Under 30
Player 2: Over 30
Each player turns over a card at the same time and the two numbers are
multiplied together. If the product is less than 30, the Under 30 player keeps the
cards. If the product is greater than 30, the Over 30 player keeps the cards.
If the answer is exactly 30 each player takes back their card and places it back in
their deck.
When all the cards have been used the person with the most cards is the winner.
Hit The Target - Grades 4 - 8
Players: Groups of two to five players
Materials: Deck of cards, Ace worth 1 or 11, Jack worth 12, Queen worth 13, King
worth 14, scratch paper
Skill: Multiplication, addition, subtraction, division, order of operations, and
mathematical reasoning
How to Play: Each group of 2 - 5 students selects a target number from 1-30. One of
the players will turn five cards from the deck face up and the object is for students to
make a number sentence using all five cards with any operations to reach the target
number.
For example, suppose the target number is 20 and the cards in play are 5, 5, 6, 2, and
Ace (worth 1).
One winning combination is: 5 x 2 + 5 + 6 - 1 = 20. Another is (6 x 5) - (2 x 5 x 1). Also,
(6 ÷ 2) x 5 + (5 x 1) works, as do many more.
The first player to find a winning combination keeps the cards and chooses the next
target number. If no combination is found in about a minute, flip over another card and
try to make a combination using six cards.
To keep the game fair for players of different abilities, introduce the rule that if a player
hasn't made a combination in three rounds, he or she may make combinations using
four of the five cards until they make a winning combination; other players must use
five.
The Chosen One - Grades 5 – 8
Players: Up to four players
Materials: Deck of cards, Ace worth 11, Jack worth 12, Queen worth 13, King
worth 14, scratch paper
Skill: Adding positive and negative integers
How to Play: The goal of the game is to reach a total of one by adding and
subtracting.
Deal 2 cards to each player.
Player one plays a card, states its value and immediately picks up another
(*players must hold 2 cards at all times.) The value can be positive or negative
e.g. +5 or –5
Player two plays and adds or subtracts card 1. Player two can add to Play
continues until a positive 1 is made.
The player who makes positive 1 wins the cards. Play continues until all cards are
played. The player with the most cards wins.
Players: Groups of three (groups of four or five for more advanced)
Materials: Deck of cards, aces and face cards removed
Skill: Multiplication, product
How to Play: In this game for three players, one student is the leader and the other two
The two players each draw a card and, without looking at it, hold it up to their foreheads
so that everyone else can see it, but not themselves. The leader announces the
products of the two cards. Each “mind reader” must figure out which card is on his or
her own forehead and say it aloud. When both “mind readers” have figured out their
cards, a new leader is chosen and the game continues.
With Reading Multiplication Minds, all players get practice with products and factors in
every round.
Give Some Percent! - Grades 4 - 6
Players: Groups of two or more
Materials: Deck of cards, Ace worth 11, Jack worth 12, Queen worth 13, King worth
14, scratch paper
Skill: Percentages and division
How to Play: Shuffle the cards and place the deck face down in the center of the table.
Decide on a percent for the first game. For example, let’s use 50%.
Turn over the top card. Players race to find the given percentage (50%) of the
value of the card. (Let's say it is a four of spades.) The first player that can give a
correct answer wins the card. (In this example, 50% of 4, the answer would be
"2".)
Play until the deck or time runs out. The player with the most cards wins. In the
case of an odd number, have students use decimals or fractions to represent the
answer (50% of 11 is 5.5 or 5 •••).
To increase the difficulty of this game, turn over two cards to make a 2-digit
number, for example a “2” and a “4” to make “24”. Then find the percentage of
that…so 50% of 24 would be 12.
Allow the winner of each round to determine the percent used for the next round.
Mean, Media, Mode Game - Grades 3-6
Players: Individuals
Materials: a deck of cards, scratch paper, a pencil, a calculator
Skill: Addition, Division, finding mean, median, mode
How to Play: Using only the Ace through 10 cards, deal out 7 cards to each
player. (Be sure there are a maximum of 4 players!) Ask each player to arrange
his cards in sequential order. Aces count as the number 1. Then, depending
upon which game you want to play, follow the directions below:
1. Finding the Mean Game. Each player finds the total value of the digits on
their cards, then divides the total by 7 (the total number of cards) to find
the mean. For example, if the cards in your hand are Ace, 2, 4, 6, 8, 8, 9,
then the sum of those digits is 38. Dividing the sum by 7 yields 5 (rounding
to the nearest whole number). If this was your hand, you'd have scored 5
points in this round. Because computation can be tricky without paper at
this age, feel free to give your child a pencil and paper to find the mean.
Or, to keep the game moving at a faster pace, you may allow use of a
calculator.
2. Finding the Median Game. Each player finds the median card in their
hand and that number is their point value for that round. Thus, using the
hand above, the median of the cards is 6, since it's the value of the middle
card.
3. Finding the Mode Game. Each player finds the mode in their hand of
cards, which represents their point value for that round. If there is no
mode, then they don’t score any points in that round. However, if
there are two modes (two numbers occur the same number of times),
then the player snags the point values for both modes! In the example
above, the mode would be 8, since it occurs most often.
The winner of each game is the first person that scores 21 points. (If you're
dealing with a very short or very long attention span, feel free to change this
value and substitute a number more appropriate for your child.)
Players: two
Materials: deck of playing cards with face cards removed, calculator (optional)
Skills: multiplication, knowledge of exponents
How to play: Deal the cards so that each player has an equal number of cards.
The first player turns over two cards, one at a time. The second number acts as
an exponent to the first number. The next player also turns over two cards. The
player with the highest number wins the round and takes all the cards. The game
ends when one player is out of cards. That player with the most cards wins.
Players: 2 -4
Materials: deck of playing cards
Skills: addition, knowledge of prime numbers
How to play: Shuffle the deck and deal five cards to each player. Aces =1,
Jacks = 11, Queens = 12, Kings = 13.
Players take turns discarding cards, face up and one at a time, into a discard
pile. Players may only discard prime numbers or a group of cards whose sum is
a prime number. If a player is unable to discard a prime number, they must draw
from the deck until they find or create one. Play continues until the pack is
depleted. The winning player is the player with the fewest cards left in their
hand.
Dice Games
18 Game (Gr. 3-5)
Rolling 3 dice, players get 19 chances to make numbers 1-18 using addition,
subtraction, multiplication and division. (The 19th chance is a freebie!! You could
increase the number of chances to 20 or 21 if you like.)
Each turn, a player repeatedly rolls a die until either a 1 is rolled or the player
decides to "hold":
• If the player rolls a 1, they score nothing and it becomes the next player's
turn.
• If the player rolls any other number, it is added to their turn total and the
player's turn continues.
• If a player chooses to "hold", their turn total is added to their score, and it
becomes the next player's turn.
The first player to score 100 or more points wins.
For example, the first player, Ann, begins a turn with a roll of 5. Ann could hold
and score 5 points, but chooses to roll again. Ann rolls a 2, and could hold with a
turn total of 7 points, but chooses to roll again. Ann rolls a 1, and must end her
turn without scoring. The next player, Bob, rolls the sequence 4-5-3-5-5, after
which he chooses to hold, and adds his turn total of 22 points to his score.
Stuck in the Mud Grades 1-3
Skills:
Equipment:
5 dice
Paper and pencil
Scoring chart (optional)
How to play
The aim of the game is to achieve the highest score. You can only score on a roll
which does not include the numbers 2 and 5. Any dice which shows a 2 or a 5
becomes “stuck in the mud”.
Choose a player to start. Roll all 5 dice. If you have rolled any 2s or 5s, you do
not score any points for this throw. If you have not rolled any 2s or 5s, add up the
total of the dice and remember it.
Set aside any 2s and 5s, and throw the remaining dice. Again, if you have rolled
any 2s or 5s you fail to score this turn. Throws without 2s and 5s are added to
Continue in this way until all your dice are “stuck”. Write down your score, and
pass the dice to the next player.
Agree a number of rounds (five works well) and total up the score. You can use
the score charts we have provided. You will be surprised at how much the score
can vary and just how tricky the dice can be!
Number of Players: 2 or more
Materials: 1 die, pen and paper
How to Play:
• This game is played in 10 rounds and the goal of the game is to get as
close as possible to 36, but not to go over it. When you do get over 36 you
are out for that round.
•
The first player throws the die several times and continues to add the
number of the die to his total.
•
The turn of the player ends when he goes over 36 points or when he
decides to stop.
•
The player who gets 36 points or closer to 36 than everyone else, wins the
round. If two players have the highest score, they both get a point.
•
Play 10 rounds and the player with the most points from winning rounds is
the overall winner of Thirty-Six dice game.
Roll two dice. Square each number and subtract the larger number from the
smaller. For example, if you roll 5 and 3: 5 squared is 25; 3 squared is 9; 25 – 9 =
16. 16 is the answer. First person to state the answer wins.
Get There by 4’s - Grades 4-6
Roll two dice. Use the larger number for the ten’s value, and the smaller number
for the one’s value. For example, 6 and 3 makes 63. Now, get to 63 using four 4′s
along with these mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication,
division, exponent and factorial. For example, in the case of 63: You could say 43
– 40 + 40 – 40 = 63. (That’s 64 – 1 + 1 -1 = 63). That wasn’t very creative, but it
works. Out loud this answer is stated as four to the third minus four to the zero,
plus four to the zero, minus four to the zero equals sixty-three. First person to
The Factor Game – Gr. 3-5
1. Player A chooses a number on the game board and circles it. Using a
different color, Player B circles all the factors of that number, except the number
itself. For example, the proper factors of 12 are 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. Although 12 is
a factor of itself it is not a proper factor.
2. Player B circles a new number, and Player A circles all the factors of the
number that are not already circles.
3. The players take turns choosing numbers and circling factors. If a player
circles a number that has no factors left that have not been circled, that player
loses a turn and does not get the points for the number circled.
4. The game ends when there are no numbers remaining with uncircled factors.
Each player adds the numbers that are circled with his or her color. The player
with the greater total is the winner. (Factor Game Board attached.)
The Product Game – Gr. 3-5
1. Player A puts a marker on a number in the factor list. Player A does not mark
a square on the product grid because only one factor has been marked; it takes
two factors to make a product.
2. Player B puts the other marker on any number in the factor list (including the
same number marked by Player A) and then shades or covers the product of the
two factors on the product grid.
3. Player A moves either one of the markers to another number and then
shades or covers the new product.
4. Each player, in turn, moves a marker and marks a product. If a product is
already marked, the player does not get a mark for that turn. The winner is the
first player to mark four squares in a row—up and down, across or diagonally.
(Product Game Board attached.)
The Factor Game
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The Product Game
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