Easy, Cheap Alternative to Drill & Kill

h1 May 15th, 2008

Take an ordinary deck of playing cards.  Decide what set of math facts you would like to work on with your child.  For ease of explanation, I will use the following set of addition facts:

0+5=5, 1+4=5, 2+3=5, 3+2=5, 4+1=5, 5+0=5

But this basic game can easily be played with any basic operation and any number of sets of facts.  When playing the “5 Game” remove all but the Ace, Queen and 2-5 cards.  Explain to the child that the Ace stands for the number 1 and the Queen for the number zero.  If you have a deck to spare, you can even write this directly on the cards to help the child remember.  Deal each player the same number of cards to begin with, adjusted depending on how many players and how large or smal a sum you are working with.  Three cards each to start would be good for this version of the game.  Turn over two cards face up to make two piles.  Place the rest of the cards face down to create a draw pile.  Determine who goes first.  The first player looks at the two numbers face up on the two piles.  Add them together to get the starting sum.  Then the first player looks at her own cards and determines if she can replace on of the starting numbers with one of her own cards to create the target sum (in this case: 5.)  In explanation, if the starting numbers are 2 and 4, the player could lay down a 3 (on top of the 4) or an Ace (on top of the 2) to create the target sum of 5.  If the player cannot create the target sum, they must draw a card from the draw pile.  If they can create the target sum, they do so and then may lay down an additional card of their choice on either pile to change the starting sum for the next player.  The first player to get rid of all their cards wins! 

 Again, this can be done to also work with subtraction, mulitplication or division as long as all players understand which operation and what final amount they are working with for the game.  The dealer must adjust how much of the deck is used depending on the math facts chosen for play.  When playing with younger children, manipulatives can be added if they are not yet moving into abstract thinking and need a touch of concretness to ground them.  Repeat joyfully and liberally with countless giggles until mysteriously the children have all their basic math facts memorized better than you do without tears or bloodshed!   

5 comments to “Easy, Cheap Alternative to Drill & Kill”

  1. Thanks for sharing this! :) We have been working our way slowly through addition, and though most of the time I rely on board games and regular card games for practice, I’ve noticed that especially the 7′s and 8′s continue to stump JediBoy… we’ve been doing one timed oral drill a day (like a race!) but I think this simple sum game could be fun and very helpful too.


  2. You are very welcome– Just don’t tell my little Athena it’s actually a math lesson! ;)


  3. Good one! Playing cards are absolutely the most bang for your buck of anything in the world, I think.
    Btw I love the name changes. Very clever!


  4. Thx! We are gearing up for Ancient History beginning next month, so I thought it would be fun to correlate their blog names! Besides, my little Kindy Girl isn’t going to be “in Kindy” much longer anyhow! *SNIFF, SNIFF* :)


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