Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Let’s face it – math is hard for some kids and flash cards aren’t as fun as the packaging makes it out to be. It makes it even more difficult to teach your child addition and subtraction when your child is on an IEP (individual education plan) combined with ADHD. On my quest to reduce the tension that math homework brings to my house,  I came across some instructions which combined the card game War with math facts. This made teaching the basic addition and subtraction facts much easier and a lot more fun. Below are a few different math card games you can play with your kids. Enjoy and happy teaching!

If you know other card games you can play with children that keep learning fun, please send me an email I’d be happy to try it with my own kids and if it works I will publish the instructions here, with full credit given to the author. Alternatively, you can check out our page with 7 card games for kids.


Playing War and Teaching Math At the Same Time

War is a very simple and easy to learn game. In fact, any school age child can learn this game quickly.

How to Play War Instructions

Here is a quick run down on how to play War. The dealer will shuffle the deck and deal out a card to each player until all of the cards have been dealt. Once the deal is complete, the players will take turns flipping over their cards. In the traditional game of War, the player with the highest card wins and takes the two cards and places them on their “win” pile. The game continues until one player has won all of the cards in the deck.

Should the two players turn over the same card they will have to go to War. When this happens, the players will deal (face down) three cards followed by one up card. The highest card wins, and that player receives the five cards from their opponent. Pretty easy huh!

So how do you turn War into a Math game? Well there are a few different games you can try playing.

Teaching Addition Facts with Cards – If you want to teach your child an easy way to learn addition, have each player deal two cards face up. The player with the highest sum wins. What’s great about this game, is that the playing cards have the symbols which they can use as a counting guide until they are able to memorize the addition facts. (This has also helped me teach addition to a child with ADHD). Once your child has picked up adding two numbers, you can increase the difficulty level by having them turn up three cards, then four and five and add those numbers.

Teaching Subtraction Facts with Cards – You can reverse the game and have them learn subtraction facts by placing two cards face up and figuring out the difference. The greatest sum wins the hand. Kids can still use the symbols on the playing cards as a guide. If for example they turn up a 7 and 5, show them how to hide the lower number on the higher ranked card (you can do this by using the other card to cover the numbers similar to the way you use the cards in a game of Euchre as counters). The two symbols still showing will give them the answer 2. Eventually they will begin to memorize the subtraction facts and will be able to answer the questions without using the cards as counters.

Teaching Multiplication Facts with Cards – Teaching multiplication facts with playing cards is a bit trickier than addition or subtraction. Your child will need to have a foundation in their times tables in order to be able to answer the questions. That said, there is no reason why you can’t teach them. To teach multiplication facts using this card game, simply turn up two cards and assist them with the answer. The highest sum wins the hand.  Once this happens you can set a timer and who ever answers the fastest wins the hand.

Another option if they are having some trouble is to use two separate decks, one for playing the game and the other as a counter for multiplying. When the child flips over two cards, for example, 7 and a 3, you would pull out three 7 cards and show them how it makes three groups of seven and what 7 x 3 means.

Other Math Games You Can Play With a Deck of Cards

Make 25 with 5 Cards

This is a great game for teaching kids addition. The object of the game is to have a hand totaling 25 while using only five cards. To play, deal each child five cards face down. The remaining cards are placed in the center of the group with the top card turned up.

The children will take turns picking up and discarding one card until they have reached a total sum of twenty-five. If a player has a hand totaling 25 using only five cards, they will immediately call out “25”. Once a player has called out their hand, the other players will receive one more turn to complete their hands.

Math games aren’t just for kids either. For several decades, a team of math geniuses at MIT took their love of mathematics, and their love of cards to a whole new level in casinos all over the United States. The teams had perfected card-counting, and for a long time were able to get away with it. They got away with millions of dollars before most were banned from Vegas for life. Many of the blackjack players started their own online review sites to teach card games tricks to anyone.

Another great site for kids games is , which includes an Educational section.Another excellent site that lists card games for kids is, run by John McLeod. You can view his selection of games here. Or check out our new page “How to play Spoons” which is an excellent card game you can play with kids.

By admin

4 thoughts on “Math Card Games”
  1. As a parent and teacher, basic facts maths is a real concern. This is the foundation on which all other maths is built so our children are supposed to be so good at it- that they can give us the answer within 3 seconds!

  2. I am looking for a card game similar to 25. The game as I remember it had 25 or 26 cards. Four cards were dealt to center and one turned up. The object was first person to use the 4 center cards with +, -, divide, or multiply signs. Also ( )’s.

    Example 4 = 2 6 11 23 Solution 4 = (23-11) X 2 divided by 6

    Multiple people play. Any ideas? Great fun for kids.

  3. A great way to engage kids who would otherwise loathe math practice (and also just a fun way for anyone to review important skills!) is to play a game. My son has a hard time getting motivated to do school work, but he is always more excited and engaged when I turn whatever we re doing into a game. Here you will find some of my favorite math card games, organized by topic!

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