Ensuring your children have a strong grasp of core math fundamentals is key to their success. Math is a subject that is truly constructed by learning the earlier concepts that get built on top of. Therefore building your child’s confidence and skills in a no-stress, no-test, fun way will build the confidence they need to succeed.
No More Math Sheets
A traditional approach to learning core math concepts quickly and easily was using repetitive math sheets or even math cards. For many children, this approach feels like additional work (homework) and usually brings up a feeling of dread and despair. Here is a resource If you still want access to downloadable and printable free math worksheets.
What are core math concepts?
Core math concepts are usually addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, negative numbers, and greater-than/less-than problem-solving.
Using the Game of War to Teach Core Math Skills
One of the most common and early childhood card games we play with children is war. This classic children’s game is the perfect opportunity to have fun with your kids while teaching important math skills.
How to Play War
Shuffle the deck and deal out ALL the cards to all the players. Yes, you can play war with more than two players but realize when there is a larger age difference between your children, this may cause frustration as the older sibling will either want to provide the answers or speed up the younger player. So I suggest you start 1 on 1.
Now each player turns face up one card. The player with the highest number wins the skirmish, keeps the cards into their prisoner pile. Whenever there is a tie each player then lays down three cards, then the fourth card is played face-up again to see who wins the war. (If it’s a tie again, then repeat this step!).
The winner is ultimately the player with the most prisoner cards and you can play multiple rounds to keep going!
Math Card Tip: Instead of buying a “deck of math cards”, simply use any normal deck of cards and simply remove the jack, queen, king, jokers and aces from the deck when you play!
Teaching Core Math Concepts using Cards
Finding a math tutor, is one of our most sought-after subjects at TutorOcean. Many students when learning their core math fundamentals often need extra practice on harder ones to remember like 6 x 8 or 9 x 7. Obviously, basic math teaches the simple concept greater than or equal to. Now, let’s share with you some variations to quickly realize how you can transform this card game into the ultimate math teaching tool.
Math Card Game Variations
Math Card Game Variations
Addition or Subtraction Math War
Instead of using one card, each player turns up two cards. For addition war, the players sum the cards and then compare to see who has the highest sum. And for subtraction war, the player subtracts the larger number from the smaller number to then see who is left the highest number. For advanced addition war, you can turn up three or four cards that need to be added together to create your total sums to then compare!
Multiplication or Product Math War
Similar to addition/subtraction war, each player turns up two cards and then simply multiplies them. Again the highest sum wins. This is an awesome and fun way to teach your kids their multiplication tables. A little pro tip, if your kids are getting pretty good on the easy ones, mix two decks of cards. Now, you’re only using the number cards from 4 to 9! For advanced multiplication war, you can turn up three or four cards to multiply! A pencil and piece of paper next to your child may help when getting started to help them think through the multiple-step multiplications.
Fraction Math War
Let’s take it up a notch and now teach your children the concept of fractions. Each player turns up two cards and makes a fraction using the smaller card as the numerator (the number above the line in a common fraction). The greatest fraction wins the skirmish. You can also teach your kids improper fractions by simply using the higher card as the numerator and again the greatest fraction wins!
Integer Addition Math War
Now instead of fractions, let’s teach your child integers especially negative numbers. So black cards are positive numbers and red cards are negative. Each player is given two cards to add up and again the greatest sum wins. This is an important opportunity to teach/remind your child that -4 is greater than -9. Also, remember that two negative numbers make a positive number.
Get creative with math card games
There are so many more ways you can turn war into teaching your child fundamental math skills. The ones above have highlighted addition, subtraction, multiplications, fractions, and integers especially leveraging negative numbers.
It’s very easy for you to keep the game at the appropriate level for your child and then make it harder as it gets easier, including ideas such as turn up three cards, the first two become a double-digit number, and then the player must subtract the third one to become their number to win the war. Or similarly up the multiplication skills by making also dealing three cards and the first two again make a double-digit that needs to be multiplied by the third.
I hope this inspires you, just as much as it did me to play these fun card math games with my three kids. Bringing math and fun together with a touch of competition is a winning formula for children’s education!