Activities Using a Deck of Playing Cards

When space in your bag is at a premium but you know you’ll be needing something to keep your children entertained, make some room for a deck of playing cards.

When space in your bag is at a premium but you know you’ll be needing something to keep your children entertained, make some room for a deck of playing cards.

maths activities using a deck of cardsWhen out and about be it in a café, sitting in a waiting room or in the airport departure lounge a simple deck of cards can provide your kids (and you) with plenty of entertainment. Sometimes it can be tricky to think of what to do with all those cards so, to make life easier, I’ve compiled a list of simple activities. In addition to being nice and easy, the activities on the list are educational, enjoyable and provide some quiet time.

playing with cards kids maths

Rainbow Facts – Turn over one card at a time and ask your child to tell you the number’s partner to 10.

Addition – Flip over two cards at a time and ask your child to add the numbers together.

Subtraction – Ask your child to flip two cards at a time and subtract the smaller from the larger number.

Multiplication Facts – Flip two cards at a time and have your child multiply the numbers together. To increase the challenge, you can add a third card (or more).

Multiplication Tables – Decide on a number to multiply by (a set of times tables). Turn over one card at a time and multiply the displayed number by the selected number. Timing your child while they go through the deck of cards can make this more engaging.

Make 10 – Ask your child to choose four cards that add together to make 10 (or any other number you choose).

dice and playing cards Flying Sprout

Vertical Sums – Lay out a vertical sum using the cards and ask your child to show the answer using cards rather than writing it down. As an extra challenge, you could lay out the top line of the sum as well as the answer and ask your child to work out the missing number.

Skip Counting – Create a number pattern for your child to identify and complete. To make this more challenging, create 2 digit numbers with the cards, count backwards or start at a number other than zero. You can also ask them to make their own counting pattern.

Missing Numbers – Ask your child to put some cards in number order (they can use single digits or make the numbers more complex with multiple cards). Have them close their eyes while you remove a card. When they open their eyes ask them to identify the missing number.

Making Sums (also requires operation cards) – Lay out some cards facing up, ask your child to make some sums using the operation cards.

Greater Than/Less Than (also requires < and > cards) – Lay out two numbers, side by side. Ask your child to place the greater than (>) or less than (<) sign in the correct position to show which number is smaller/larger

Making Numbers – Ask your child to make numbers meeting specific criteria e.g. Select three cards and ask them to make the largest or smallest number possible or, ask them to make a 3 digit number that is a multiple of 5 or ask them to make a number with a 3 in the tens position

take a deck of cards with you kids maths activities

Roll and Collect (also requires a 10 sided dice) – Lay a full suit of cards face up in a row. Ask your child to roll the dice, read the number aloud and collect the correct number card,

20 Questions – Make a 2-digit number using the cards and have a partner guess your number by asking yes or no questions.

Roman Numerals (also requires matchsticks or paddle pop sticks) – Select a playing card and make the number in roman numerals using the sticks.

Snap – Divide the deck of cards equally between the people playing. Players take it in turns to turn over one card at a time, placing it face up on the centre pile. When two cards of the same number are placed on the pile one-after-the-other, the first person to yell, ‘snap!’ collects both cards. The winner is the person with most pairs when all the deck has been played.

Memory – Select two full suits of cards. Lay them facedown in rows. Players take it in turns to turn over two cards. When a player turns over two cards of the same suit, they keep the pair. Continue until all pairs have been found. The player is the one with the most pairs at the end of the game.

Traditional Card Games – Play some good old-fashioned card games such as Solitaire, Rummy, Poker, Go Fish etc. For instructions on how to play an enormous range of traditional card games click here.

Your child will have heaps of fun building a card tower.
Your child will have heaps of fun building a card tower.

Build a Tower – Make a tower, as tall as possible, using the full set of playing cards.

52 Pick Up – Drop all the cards on a surface and have your child pick them up. They could pick up the cards one suit at a time, in number order or by skip counting.

If you liked these suggestions, head on over to Flying Sprout’s Etsy Store to purchase your own Grab & Go Bag, complete with an activity idea, extension tasks and set of playing cards.

As you can see from this list, there are plenty of ways a humble deck of cards can help your child to improve their maths skills while they are keeping entertained and having fun!

Flying Sprout's Grab & Go Bags practise maths skills in a fun and engaging way.
Flying Sprout’s Grab & Go Bags practise maths skills in a fun and engaging way.