Monday, November 5, 2012

Math Games with a Deck of Cards

Sorry it's been so long - I'm just ridiculously busy at school with department chair, our incoming one-to-one laptop program (which I'm now on the teacher committee for), and life in general.  Right now I am taking a quick break from cleaning out our fridge - which busted this weekend while I was out of town and resulted in over $300 worth of food being ruined.  (I am about in tears throwing out everything from our freezer - with the hubby out of town I literally had enough food to last me through Thanksgiving.) 

Anyways, I have been promising a post on all the math games that I teach students that can be played with a deck of cards.  Basically they are all just variations of the same game - war - just with slight modifications. You can play this game to practice multiplication facts, addition facts, integer addition rules or multiplication integer rules. 

To play, students divide a deck of cards in half and flip over the top card from their pile (just like the traditional game of war).  The winner of the two cards is the first person who calls out the product  of the two cards.  For example, if I flipped a 6 and Joe flipped a 5, the first person who called out 30 would win both cards.  I have my students play with face cards - Kings are 0, Aces are 1, Jacks are 11, and Queens are 12.  I know it's a bit non-traditional to have Kings be 0, but I am not really worried about students knowing their 13 facts, so I make it 0.  Sometimes, when I am working with lower grades or lower level students I have them take out all of the face cards.

A modification to this game if you don't want to focus on speed, is to have each student flip two cards, and then whoever has the greater product wins all four cards.  For example, if I flipped a 6 and a 3, and Joe flipped a 4 and a 5, Joe would win all four cards since 4 times 5 (20) is greater than 6 times 3 (18).   Of course, in either version of the game, if you have a tie you play war - three cards face down and then flip the next card (or two cards) and whoever wins that match up wins all of the cards. 

To play so you are practicing addition facts, simply have students find the sum instead of the product.  If you want students to play using integer rules, have them play the same way, but this time red cards are negative and black cards are positive.  When I first introduce this game with integers I usually have students take out the face cards - they are so focused on keeping the colors straight that I don't want to confuse them with the face cards too. 

These are such easy, simple games to practice very essential skills and the kids love them.  Sometimes I have them as a station activity, or if I finish a lesson early I know I have them as a back up to fall back on.

Do you have games in your classroom that are old faithfuls?


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