Want to make Maths more Enjoyable? Use a Deck of Cards

You know that we learn better and faster when we’re having fun, right? I love playing card games with my Hummingbirds because it is always great fun, they learn their maths without even realising it and most importantly the fun can continue at home.

I remember playing cards with my mum & granny.  It always seemed to be such a grown up thing to do because cards can be enjoyed at almost any age.  A deck of cards always accompanies us on holidays & when we have a power cut, the cards come out before the candles.

The first card game I ever learned to play was ‘Fish in the Pond’.  It was years before I realised that Happy Families was the same game.  It was a wonderful way of learning to recognise numbers and learning to count.  Mum would get us to count the diamonds or spades on the card to be absolutely sure that we were correct.  It could become very competitive too, once the cousins joined in – family pride was at stake!

We didn’t realise it but we were also working on improving our short term & long term memories.  Asking her now, mum would just say that she was simply playing a silly card game with us and that is where the magic is. By simply playing cards (the emphasis on ‘playing’), we didn’t realise that we were learning maths.

When working with my Hummingbirds, we use cards for addition, subtraction & multiplication.  I call them our mini maths breaks because it forms part of their homework routine.  It simply switches on their maths brain & warms it up before starting maths homework.

King, Queen, Jack & Ace are all 10. The deck is well shuffled and two cards a laid side by side.  The two vales are added, then lower value card is subtracted from the higher and finally they are multiplied.  Easy!  We use the entire deck so it is a wonderful revision method. As time goes on, the answers come more and more easily and this confidence in mental arithmetic is carried though to maths homework and the classroom.

A deck of cards is as cheap as chips, portable and widely available, just as good as a maths app or maths computer game.  Better than that, playing cards with your children opens up an entire world of card games that the whole family can play, for life.

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