Math Cards Game

"I can't do it!", "I suck at math!", "I hate math!" are things you hear everyday, but something we'd love to hear less of if we want to encourage our kids to get into the sciences. Like it or not engineering jobs do tend to pay better than most others. 

Everyone hates rote memorization of tables of multiplication and addition, and truth be told not too many kids love math like some of us adults do. The problem is math is taught using boring methodology as opposed to a fun and challenging manner. This is when Gamification comes in handy.

The game I'm gonna talk about is a cards game to get your kids working on their mental calculation speed. It's a game that I sometimes use for my ESL lessons as a means of determining turns, but is essentially a math game - the more you play it, the faster you get at doing numbers in your head.

What you need:

  • Regular set of playing cards without the joker - I have stylized mine (as you can see on the pic below) using a flashcard generator I found on the web @
  • A piece of paper and pencil (and maybe eraser) for each player
  • (this is optional) a calculator for you, the monitor, in case your children's calculation speed goes past your own.

How to play:    

  • Deal 5 cards to each player - Now, the number of cards is entirely up to you, but more cards mean more numbers to play around with and get the desired result
  • Turn the top cards of the remaining deck placing it on the side
  • The players need to use the cards in their hand to come up with a set of operations, including + - X /, which used together and in sequence result in the number on the turned card. If for example the turned card is a 6, and your hand has the numbers 1, 4, 5, 8 and 12, you can say: (12/4)-5+8 = 6 or 5+8-12+1+4 = 6. In the first case you (or the player) used up 4 of 5 cards, and in the second case all 5 cards. What matters is not the complexity of the operands used, but to use as many of the cards as possible at every turn. 
  • Player need to draw one more card at every turn until they have enough numbers to produce the desired calculation
  • The first player to get rid of all cards is the winner
  • As the monitor of the game you will have to make sure all calculations are correct. In time you may have to resource to the help of a calculator, or at least that's what you should be hoping for. 

Hope you and your kids enjoy this game :)