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5 card games to boost learning proficiency

Card games are a family favourite for getting everyone around the table engaging in some fun and competitive games. But what about schools? How can teachers make use of a set of playing cards to supplement learning and make them even more prepared to succeed in class?

We put together a few ideas for you here.


5 easy card games to play in school

Make use of a humble set of playing cards with these five simple card games with an educational spin.


1. Memory game

Memory is something we are all reliant on. Any way teachers can help to develop a pupil’s memory will have lasting effects on all their educational endeavours. Using a pack of cards, you can quickly create a simple game that works to improve a child’s memory – and probably yours too!

Create a grid of 7-by-7 (using 49 cards) and after a minute of memorising the layout, flip them all over so they are face down. It’s then the child’s job to flip over as many pairs of the same card across suits as they can.

For younger children, start smaller with grids of 4-by-4 or 5-by-5 and increase the difficulty as they get better. It might seem simple, but these basic exercises flex our memory muscles, helping us in all aspects of learning.


2. Kings

Take a deck of playing cards and lay them all out face down. Each card represents a different task that, when turned over, that child must undertake. This can cover their English skills, maths skills, or both.

Before you start, draw up a set of rules that outline the task for each number. Here are some ideas:

  • Turn over a 2 – Ask a question in the past tense
  • Turn over an 8 – Make a sentence using the verb “to be” plus an adjective
  • Turn over 10 – Recite the 7 times table

You could also throw in a few rules that aren’t learning-based but are just a bit more fun. How about making a farm animal noise if you turn over a Queen?

What’s great about Kings is that it’s played in big groups, allowing you to involve the entire class. Plus, the flexibility it offers means you can change the rules to focus on the areas you think are most important to the class.


3. Snap

Snap is an absolute classic in the world of card games, and you can tweak it ever so slightly to reinforce the things kids learn in class.

This one does require a bit of extra work beforehand. Pick a topic area for the game – it could be grammar or maths – then adapt the playing cards to suit your topic. If you’re going for grammar, attach some slips of paper to each card with types of words written on each. You could have a dozen cards with adverbs, a dozen with adjectives, and so on. During the game, players have to shout snap when consecutive types of words are placed on the pile.

If you’re going down the maths route, pick a few numbers and write down multiples of those numbers. Players shout snap when consecutive multiples of the same number are placed on the pile. For example, if a 12 is followed by 30, a snap could be called for multiples of six.


4. Add to 10

Given that playing cards are full of numbers, it’s no surprise there are so many directions you can go down to help a student’s maths skills.

This is a super simple one that’s perfect for beginners – but how about using them for simple addition or multiplication. Start simple by asking pupils to pick up cards that add up to 10, then move to 20 or 30. Ramp up the difficulty by giving a child a number and challenging them to two numbers that multiply together to make that number.

It’s another easy, flexible way to utilise playing cards to reinforce key everyday skills.


5. Maths War with fractions

War is another staple for many lovers of card games, and you can make a slight tweak to bring a fraction focus to the game.

Two players deal two cards each. The first card is the numerator and the second the denominator (make sure the face cards are left out of the pack for this one). Once the cards are laid out, the players work out which fraction is bigger, the owner of which takes the four cards. Play a series of rounds and then see who has the most cards to declare a winner.


All you need now are some cards. Head over to the Hope Education site and get yourself some playing cards to put these games into action.


<a href="" target="_self">William Hinch</a>

William Hinch

Hope Education writer

Will has been writing for Hope Education since July 2020, helping provide teachers with tips, advice and insight that helps them educate the next generation. Away from his educational writing, Will is a typical Yorkshireman; a lover of ale, cricket and tea!

19 August 2020

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