Sunday, December 27, 2015

Show Down: Addition Facts Card Game

While my hope is to just have fun and relax over this winter vacation, I also know that it can be good to keep school aged kids thinking at least a little about both math and reading. The best way parents can do that is by keeping the learning fun and playful. (Which does not mean worksheets.)

A few months ago, I came up with this game for Big Brother and I to play and practice math facts at the same time. It's been a big hit on weekends and vacations since then, and he's not even realizing he's building his number facts as we play.

What are number facts? Addition number facts are typically thought of as addition facts with a sum (answer) up to 20. 

The rules to our "Show Down" game are very similar to the traditional card game "War" with a few math twists. The materials are relatively simple: a deck of playing cards, a sheet of paper, and a marker or pencil. 
This game works best for 2 players, but could be played with more. In this game number cards are worth their number value and all face cards are worth 10. Aces are worth one. 

Before playing mark out a "number line" from 1 to 22 on the paper. A number line is a straight line with small hash marks for each number. In our case our number line counted by ones. Keep your numbers as evenly spaced as possible. 

Deal the set of cards out between two players so that all of the cards are dealt. Each player keeps their set of cards as a small deck, face down. Players do not look at their cards. 

Using the number line paper as a mat, each player flips two cards at once. 

Now comes the "Show Down" part. Each player has to find the sum (or total of their two cards.) Whomever has the greatest sum of cards wins all four cards. We practice saying our cards as a number fact. 

For example: "10 + 9 = 19." Or, "10 + 10= 20, so my sum is greater." This gets kids using math language as they play. 

When a kiddo doesn't know the fact, or wants to check their answer, they use the number line. Big Brother is only in kindergarten, so really he is still developing a sense of most of his number facts. This makes the number line a great tool. To use the number line he starts with the larger number and counts up the smaller number. So for 6+8, he would start on the 8 and count up 6 hash marks until he landed on 14. 

The number line can also be used to compare the two answers to find which one is greater if a child isn't sure. 

Players continue playing, each flipping two cards at a time and finding the sum. If two players have the same sum, they flip two more cards and find the sum of the two new cards. Whomever has the highest amount that time takes all eight cards. 

When a player runs out of cards, they can shuffle their stack of "winning" cards and play with those. Play continues until someone runs out of cards, or as it can take a long time, someone calls a truce. 

This game really feels like a game to my kiddo, yet each time we play he masters a few more facts. But best of all we have fun together playing it. 

Side note: This game can be adapted to practice subtraction facts too. Merely practice subtracting the smaller card from the larger card. To use the number line, kids start at the larger number and work backwards. 

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