Go Fish! is arguably the absolute most common card game children play. Take this game, with rules well ingrained and turn it into some fun math card games, and your child may never even know you are making them do extra math work at home!
Review the rules: Use a standard deck of cards. Deal out five cards, spread the rest on the table. Take turns asking, “Do you have an _____?” If they have it, you get an extra turn, if not, you pick from the cards on the table. If you pick up what you asked for, show it and get another turn. A book all four cards the same number. Anytime you make a book, place it on the table and get another turn. Scoring is five points for each number card, ten points for each face card and fifteen for an ace.
For these Go Fish! fun math games, an ace is counted as a one. Decide about the face cards depending on the age of the child. When they are ready for multiplying by 11, 12 and 13 that is fine. Otherwise they can used as bonus cards where they do not have to do any math. Make adjustments the best way you can to make math more fun while playing.
Variation 1: When they put the book down they have to do something with the numbers. At first it will be counting them, then as they get older add them together. Then it can be a mixture of adding and subtracting. Finally once they are older it can be a combination of the four operations. Teacher supply stores have blank spinners and blank dice where you write whatever you want on them. Write the different operations and a wild for “choose your own operation.” For this math card game a free turn does not work, so the last one could be roll or spin again.
Variation 2: Review multiplication facts by designating a game as “3 tables day” or “6 tables day” and so forth. Every time someone asks for a number they must multiply that number by the designated game number. On six table day, when they put a book down they will also say, “I have a book of sixes; and six times six is thirty-six.”
Variation 3: This variation is just with scoring. Play the game as usual. When finished, add up the points as usual. Then have them spread all their cards on the table and see how many math family groupings they can create, give 5 bonus points for each grouping. For this the Jack is 11, Queen 12 and King is 13. So, 2,3,5 is a group 9.3,Q is a group. They state the group and all the facts that can be made with them, 2+3=5; 3+2=5; 5-2=3; 5-3=2 There might even be some advanced grouping based on factors, 2,3,4,6,8 Q group are all factors of 24.
Taking a common card game and adapting it to give extra math practice and making math more fun for your child is easy to do! Children in one family at different levels can play the same fun math card game with different expectations based on ability.
Sue Gnagy Fegan used a structured, sequential multisensory teaching approach for the past 34 years. She saw first hand the benefits of engaging students in productive, hands on activities in class. She created and has presented Make it Fun! Make it Challenging! Make it Multisensory! workshop at conferences across the country.