Thursday, August 9, 2012

Card Games for Fast Facts–Spotlight Blogger Sally from Elementary Matters

Welcome to Raki's Rad Resources for our latest Spotlight Blogger. image_thumb2_thumbMy family and I are camping right now, and we are taking a break from all screens in an effort to recharge our batteries and get ready for the new school year. While we are gone, I hope you are enjoying the spotlight bloggers who have agreed to guest blog for me. Be sure to pin the posts you like, as the spotlight blogger with the most pins on their post will win a special prize! And then, please stop by their blogs and see all the awesome things they have to offer you.





Hi!  I'm Sally from Elementary Matters.  I'm guest posting for Heidi so she can take a well deserved vacation!

One of the toughest math standards for kids to master is this one:
Common Core State Standard 2.OA.2  Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.  By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.

Yes, that says "from memory"!  So much of future math depends on knowing these basic facts, and it's not easy for the kids to memorize them.

I like to use a lot of games to practice basic addition and subtraction facts.  In fact, here are a few games that can be played with a regular deck of cards.  Playing cards have many advantages:  Using cards frequently increases a child's number sense.  They're easy to get, and you don't actually need a complete deck!  (Insert joke here about "not playing with a full deck"!)  If you ask the kids to bring in spare card decks, you'll have enough to keep the class busy in a couple of days!

Addition War:  This works almost like regular War, but each player is given two cards.  (All picture cards are worth 10 in this game.)  The player adds his/ her cards together and says the whole equation. (Brain research tells us that using the voice to verbalize the whole thought helps the memory!)  Whoever has the greatest sum wins that round.  In the example below, the player on the left would say "8 plus 10 equals 18" and the player on the right would say "5 plus 10 equals 15".  The player on the left would win all 4 cards.

In this example, the player on the left would say "4 plus 3 equals 7" and the player on the right would say "3 plus 10 equals 13".  The player on the right would win all 4 cards.
In this game, we have a tie.  Each player gets one more card.
Now the player on the left would say "6 plus 4 plus 8 equals 18".  The player on the right would say "9 plus 1 plus 10 equals 20".  The player on the right gets all 6 cards. 
Play continues until all cards are gone.  The player ending up with the most cards is the winner.


  • Use 3 cards.  The greatest sum wins each contest.
  • Use 2 cards to make a 2 digit number.  The greatest 2 digit number wins each contest.  This also works for 3 digit numbers.
  • Do subtraction.  The smaller number will be subtracted from the larger number.  The greatest difference wins each contest.
  • Each player chooses 3 cards.  They make a 2 digit number with 2, then subtract the third.  The greatest difference wins each contest.
  • Take out all the tens and picture cards, and just focus on the single digits, as in the above standard.
  • Just use the cards you want to focus on... if you're working on the easier facts, remove all cards over five.  If you're working on tougher facts, remove the lower numbers.

Here's another game, it's called Fishing for 10s:

Since we work with a base ten system, forming tens is pretty important.  In this game, the picture cards are worth ten.  Everything else is face value.  To start the game, each player gets 5 cards, and the rest are kept face down in the deck.

Before starting, players look at their cards and take out their tens.  The player on the left took out the 6 and 4.  The player on the right took out a King and a Jack, which are each worth ten.

Then the "fishing" begins. Instead of asking for a match, in "Fishing for Tens", the player must ask for the card that would complete the set of 10.  In the picture below, the player on the left had a 3, so asked for a 7.

Play continues just as "regular fish".  If a player runs out of cards, they can take one from the pile. The game ends when all the cards are gone.  The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins.

This last game is a solitaire game, called Pyramid Solitaire.  In this game, we're adding to 13.  The Jack is worth 11, the Queen is worth 12, and the King is 13 by itself.  To start the game, set up a pyramid, increasing each row by one card, until you have a row of 7 cards across the bottom of the pyramid.  The goal of this game is to collect combinations of 13, until all the cards are discarded.  This game is very difficult to win, but the kids love the challenge, and will play it over and over.  (Which means they're practicing their addition!)
Before taking any cards from the deck, see if you have any combinations of 13.  (You can't take any card that's covered, so the 7 bottom ones are the only available at the beginning of the game.)  There is an 8, and 3 choices on 5s to go with it.  This player took the 5 of clubs on the right end.  The 8 and the 5 go into the discard pile.

Now turn over the first card from the deck.  It's a 3.  We would have to have a 10 available to use it, so we leave it in the pile.

Now we drew another 8, which will go with either 5. This player took the 5 of spades on the corner.  These go in the discard pile.
Now we drew a 7 from the deck

It goes with the 6.  Now we've opened up the 8 of spades, which goes with the 5 of diamonds, opening up a few more cards!

Cards that aren't used as a combination of 13 are kept in order and can be reused when the deck is exhausted.  The player keeps turning cards from the deck and discarding combinations of 13 until no more moves are available.

As I mentioned above, this game is a popular one!  I never mind if the children want to play this as a team.  That's when the great conversations happen!  (If we use this 8, we'll open up this 6, which goes with this 7!)  Brain research tells us conversation is an important part of learning!

I thought I'd leave you with a little freebie:  the children love these lists because they're set up in patterns.  These are all the addition facts and all the subtraction facts that fit the Common Core State Standard 2.OA.2 (Single digit plus single digit.)  Just click the image to download the freebie!

Don't hesitate to come over and visit me at Elementary Matters!