A Deck of Cards

by Early Math Counts

cardsWe were taking some pictures of math manipulatives for online professional development program we are creating, and we got to talking about “bought” materials vs. “found” materials.  Over the past couple of years, I have written a lot about both; from expensive hand-made, wooden puzzles to recycled egg cartons.  They all have their place in the early childhood environment.

As we were sifting through some cabinets, we found an old deck of cards.  We reminisced about all of the card games we played with our own children when they were young.  We played “War” and a homemade version of “Uno.”  We used the cards to play a simplified version of “Memory” and “Go Fish.” A simple deck of cards is one of those found items that is as good as any bought item. I say they are found because I don’t remember ever buying a deck of cards; somehow, they are always just there, in the drawer.

Begin playing War with an abbreviated deck so you can include very young children.  Take out the face cards and everything higher than the 6s.  You may want to remove the Aces as well, just to begin, since the representation of the number “1” may make it too complicated.  Play with the children one-on-one and observe their number sense.  Can they identify the numerals by name? Can they determine which number is higher? Can they follow the directions?  When the cards match, can they count out 3 additional cards to have a card war?  Once children have mastered the cards through 6, add the 7s and 8s.  Later, add the 9s and 10s.  Many children will be able to play a full game of War by kindergarten, face cards included.


11 Replies to “A Deck of Cards”

  1. I use decks of cards often. We also use them for memory games. You can use less cards for younger children. We also pull out a number and the kids search the room for a specific number of items based on the cards numerical value. For the older kids I use them as addition and subtraction games as well. Put down a two and a three and they find five items in the room (or we use a tote of small blocks or counters)

    1. Thanks Sandra,
      That is also another way to play \”War.\” Instead of putting down one card at a time, you put down 2 cards and the kids have to add them up to see if they won the war.

  2. I’ve used a set of cards in various ways. When doing exercises the students take turns picking a card to determine how many times we are going to do a particular movement.

    Older students can pick two cards and add them together to determine the number of times.

  3. I deal out cards to the student and myself and we each flip over a card….I ask them if my their number is more or less than mine. So much fun because they get it right and they win and add it to their pile.

  4. I give the children laminated cards to play with often. They love them flipping them over and showing me the numbers on underneath. We talk about the number and count the objects.

  5. I think I will try the deck of cards with my kiddos. They can learn not only the numbers but if that number is higher or lower. What a great idea playing war.

  6. I used a deck of playing cards for the number of letters in the child’s first name. I would spread the playing cards and their name cards on the carpet during center time. To choose their area of choice, they would count the letters in their first name and choose the correct number on the playing card that matches the number of letters in their name. Name and recognition. Counting.

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