Maths Games with Playing Cards

July 31, 2015 Madeleine K

A few ideas of how a simple deck of cards can become and engaging maths lesson!

A simple deck of playing cards can be used to create engaging maths lessons and games for students of all levels. 


For young students, this game helps them to learn number order, and visualise the meaning of digits. Cards are great for this because they show a numerical symbol, "5", and visualise the corresponding amount (showing 5 hearts).

Remove the face cards (Jack, Queen, King). Deal the remaining cards evenly between all players, do not look at the cards!

Each round, every player turns over their top card simultaneously. The player that flips over the highest number wins! They get to add all of the face-up cards to their hand. This continues until only one player is left with all of the cards. 


This game can be modified to fit any kind of fraction practice. Use the cards to randomly generate fractions (explained below)- you can then use the fractions however you need to!

Deal all of the cards evenly between two players. Keep the cards face down in a pile in front of you. Each player flips up two cards from their hand. They have to make the largest possible fraction from these two cards by placing one in the numerator and one in the denominator. Face cards are worth 10, or 11 (J), 12 (Q), 13 (K).

For example, if you flip up a 9 and a 6, you could make the fraction 6/9 or 9/6. 9/6 would be the largest possibility.

Whichever player makes the largest fraction wins the hand!


Deal the cards evenly between two players. Don't look at the cards! Each player will flip up one card. Player 1's card will be used as a base number. Player 2's card will be used as an index.

So, if Player 1 flips up a 9 and Player 2 flips up a 2, you will make 9^2.

The players must then multiply the index- the first person to get the (correct) answer wins! Be careful, numbers can get very big. Have scratch paper handy, and make sure students can handle that level of multiplication.


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