Why use a deck of cards to engage math learning?
Simply put, decks of cards:
~ are inexpensive
~ are readily available
~ can be used individually, in pairs, or in groups
~ have multiple uses for this one resource/tool
~ are easily transportable, which means learning can take place anywhere
~ can be used at home and at school
~ facilitate connections between and amongst concepts
~ can be used for math: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, exponents
~ engages hand/eye coordination
~ are great for helping English Language Learners learn vocabulary
Why are Basic Math Facts Important?
Having basic math facts at your fingertips makes a great deal of sense. What better way to practice them than with a deck of cards.
Here’s how: Substitute the values of the face cards with the numbers 11 (Jack), 12 (Queen) and 13 (King). Using this substitution, students can practice times tables up to 13x13=169. To add interest and variation, give the Joker cards different numerical values and include them in the math games!
Knowing basic math facts:
~ means that you don’t need a calculator, or your cell phone/computer to give you the answer
~ reduces the number of mistakes made because you are not depending on technology (If you input the numbers wrong, then the answer is wrong)
~ allows you to determine when something doesn’t make sense (For example: While purchasing two specialty drinks at Starbucks® you are told that you owe $5.31. This number does not make sense because you know that one specialty drink is $5.31. So, what happened to the cost of the second drink? The total owed does not make sense relative to what you know to be true about the cost of one drink. Knowing that one drink costs just over $5 and the second drink costs just over $7, you should be expecting to pay between $12-$13)
~ allows you to quickly determine which product on the grocery shelf makes the better deal (For example: a 454 gram box of cereal is on special for $6.49, while the 1 kg box of the same cereal is priced at $12.99. Which one makes the most sense to purchase based on per unit cost alone?)
How Does This Work?
Start out where the student currently is.
~ If the student knows number facts and wants to improve speed and accuracy, then include all cards in the deck; decide upon the operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, exponents) to practise. Shuffle the deck of cards. Divide the deck between the two players. As each player puts a card down, the first person to get the correct answer wins. OR, as a tutor or supporting adult, let the student do all the answering, but focus on accuracy and speed.
~ If the student is new to math facts, start out with a game of concentration using arrays of 4x4 or 2x3 and gradually work up to using all 52 cards in the deck. Remember to pull out the necessary cards to ensure that they are all paired. Once they get used to the numbers on cards, then start out with addition of cards to 10, and gradually work up to 13 + 13. Then move to multiplication, then subtraction, then division.
~ If the student is learning about integers, fractions, decimals, then the use of subtraction and division of pairs of cards can be structured so that the smallest number will be the starting point. For example: cards: 3 & 4. (3 – 4 = -1); (¾=0.75) or (4/3=1.3333…repeating)
Can I Do These Activities With My Child At Home?
This practise is a great way to engage the brain in math activities, consolidate basic math skills, extend your child’s concept of number and operations, and increase self-esteem as these skills become automatic and internalized.
Here are some links to provide additional resources:
http://www.crewtonramoneshouseofmath.com/math-with-playing-cards.html This site has embedded videos to illustrate how to play the math card games with a young student.
Here is a link to a video about how to play The World’s Best Math Card Game: