Mathematics and Card Games – Is this much fun, legal?



This is a real strategic maths game involving luck and a fair bit of skill in number facts and number sentences. If you have a group of chatty kids, this will really keep them focused.

Australian Curriculum Links:

Year 6 – Select and apply efficient mental and written strategies and appropriate digital technologies to solve problems involving all four operations with whole numbers (ACMNA123)

Year 6 – Explore the use of brackets and order of operations to write number sentences (ACMNA134)

Lesson Outline:

1. Hand out a blank number sentence grid. If the students haven’t seen a number sentence grid before, then you have your first teaching episode.

2. I would most certainly be teaching the concepts of BOMDAS and priority of signs before starting this activity.

3. Students work in small groups of 2, 3 or 4. (4 is the best)

4.  A deck of cards is placed in the middle of the group

5. In turn, players turn up one card and places it on the table. Each player writes this digit in the number sentence grid in any location of their choice.

6. The process is repeated with students to the left turning over the next card. This is where the fun starts and learning is challenged, because kids have to work out the best location for the number. When I use this in my relief teaching gigs, I just wander around and listen to the conversation while the kids were playing. You know sometimes your teaching activity just feels right!

6. As the game (Ooops! I mean learning activity) progresses and the number sentence grid starts to fill up, math thinking and problem solving strategies starts to kick it.

7. The real math challenge starts because the cards don’t always fall the way you want.

8. Inside the grid is a discard section where kids can place numbers they don’t want to (or can’t) use. However, there are only 6 spaces, so there are strategic choices need to be made. As the discard section fills up, unwanted cards will need to placed in blank squares making the number sentences incorrect. Number sentences are ticked when correct but as cards have to be used to fill up blank squares, some number sentences will be incorrect.The strategist will sacrifice one number sentence to keep the most hopeful numbers sentences in play.

9. The winner will be the player with most correct number sentences.

Can you see the math skills required to solve these math problems? Each player will be taking a different approach.

When I use this math games in my relief teaching gigs, kids remain fully engaged. Prime math thinking, talking and problem solving.


You could create any number of pen and paper tests to assess this activity. Or you could just watch the kids to see who doesn’t have a clue. If you see this occurring, put these kids with some more capable math students. That way the less capable students will see real math thinking in action.


  1. View this activity play out on my YouTube Channel.
  2. Deck of Cards – these are one of the cheapest and most useful resource for teachers.
  3. Number Sentence Grid
  4. 51 Card Games for Maths
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