Card Games For the Whole Family




Every time we go camping, I throw in a pack of cards. I have all these great intentions of using them in some fun way to play a game and develop the kids’ maths skills. I mean, cards are sequential numbers, they lend themselves perfectly to practising adding, counting, multiplying etc., right? But I rarely end up getting them out. The reason? Other than simply flipping the cards over and adding them, or multiplying them, or lining them up in order etc etc, I’ve never properly thought through any ideas for exactly how to get the most out of that simple pack of cards.

Until now…

  1. Target 100


  • Pack of cards (picture cards removed)
  • 2 Hundreds Charts (can be created or found online and printed)
  • Counters of some sort (if you have a stack of counters, great – if not, small pieces of pasta, or pom poms or beads or buttons will do nicely)

How to Play:

Place the pack of cards in the middle of the playing space, face down. Players take it in turns to flip over the top card. They then use the number shown on that card to cover (using the counters) the corresponding number of squares on their hundreds chart. It is then the other player’s turn. For this game, Ace = 1. The winner is simply the first person to cover their whole chart.

  1. Number Builder


  • Pack of cards (picture cards removed)
  • Paper and pencils

How to Play:

Each player uses their paper and pencil to draw a place value chart:

Thousands Hundreds Tens Ones



Cards are placed, face down in the playing space. One person turns over 4 cards, but just one at a time. After each card is turned over, players must decide where in their place value chart, they will record that number. The goal is to build the largest number possible. For this game Ace = 1.

Once each player has recorded the number on the card, they cannot move its position.

The next card is then turned over and each player must repeat the process, recording the number in their place value chart.

Once all 4 cards have been turned and everyone has a 4-digit number recorded, those with the highest number, win.

This game can be extended to 5, 6 and 7-digit numbers.

  1. Chance It


  • Pack of Cards

How to Play:

Everyone in the family selects either a suit (diamonds, hearts etc.) or a specific card (a seven, a king etc.).

The game is super simple: the cards are placed, face down in the centre of the playing space. Everyone stands in a circle around the cards. Players take it in turns to flip over the top card. If the card is one of the cards selected by a player, that player sits down. So, if you chose ‘sevens’ and the card flipped over is a seven, you are out.

The winner is the last one standing.

  1. Make 10


  • Pack of cards (picture cards removed)
  • Counters (any small objects will do)
  • Paper and pencils (optional)

How to Play:

This is an independent activity, so there is no winner to this game; unless of course you count improving your maths skills, winning, in which case, everyone’s a winner here!!

Place the pack of cards, face down. Turn over the top card. Then use the counters to show how many more you need to make 10. So, if the card you turn over is a ‘3’, you would gather 7 counters, to demonstrate that 3 and 7 make 10.

For this game Ace = 1.

You can then extend the activity to writing the matching equations: 3 + 7 = 10

Variation for older ones: If your children are older and practising times tables, get them to turn over a card. You then give them an answer to a times table using that card and get them to find the other card they would need to complete the equation. For example: if your child turns over a ‘7’, you could say “56” and they would then have to find an ‘8’. They could then write: 7 x 8 = 56.

  1. 11


  • Pack of cards

How to Play:

For this game:

Ace = 1

All picture cards = 10

Lay the cards, face down on a table or the floor. For this game, they are spread out, not in a deck. Each card should be face down in its own space.

Players take it in turns to flip over 2 cards. If the sum of the two cards flipped equals 11 or more, the player keeps the pair and gets to flip again. If the sum of the two cards is less than 11, the cards are turned back over and play moves to the next person.

When all cards are gone from the table, or when all combinations to equal 11 have been used, the player with the most pairs, wins.


So now we have 5 fun ways to use the cards! The next time we go camping, I’ll throw in those cards again and we will actually use them!

What are your family-favourite card games?

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