Homeschooling– Early Math All in a Deck of Cards, Part I

Homeschooling– Early Math all in a Deck of Cards Part I

Everything you need for early math (toddler through third grade) can be found in a deck of cards. No need to buy workbooks or flashcards just yet. A simple deck of cards became part of our daily home school when the children were still toddlers. Here are some great ways to use cards for simple math for the younger age children (toddler through kindergarten).

1. Sorting and counting. Instruct your three and four year old to “find all the cards in the heart family”. Then count the hearts on the card and point to the number. 7 hearts…

2. Line up all the hearts and count them from 1 to 10. Cards are very versatile because they can be spread out on the floor. Young children can jump or crawl from 2 to 3 to 4 and so on. Another one of our favorite games was to say the number and then try to toss the card into a bowl or hat. You can also introduce basic phonics with J for Jack, Q for Queen, and K for King. We have also personified the King and Queen. “Boo, hoo” cried the Queen of Hearts, “I can’t see the four in my family.” “Oh, thank you, little girl, you have found the four.”

3. You can then introduce the concept of “War”, where each person flips a card and the larger card “wins” both cards. If you both flip a three, then each player must place another card face down and another card face up. This is the “War”. At the same time, each player flips the face down card and the larger card wins all six cards. The player with the most cards at the end is the winner. You can make this game shorter or easier by only using a partial deck. For example, the aces, twos, threes, fours, and fives for a younger child. Short games are also a great way to teach a competitive young child how to deal with losing a game. Learning to congratulate your opponent can be a tough lesson. Being a gracious winner is an important lesson as well.

4. A deck of cards is great for active boy learners. Another option is to set up one minute stations using parts of the deck. Station one is a 10 card base 10 matching game. The next station is adding 6 cards together consecutively. Place stations around your home so the child has a little travel time to get out the wiggles. Station three is skip counting by 2’s for 12 cards. Station four is a “war” game with mom.

5. A scavenger hunt is another active fun way to learn your numbers while teaching your young child to wait. Have them sit and wait in the kitchen, nice and quiet, while you hide 20 cards in the living room. Hand them a basket and have them find the cards. They have to say the number name or count the hearts in order to place the card in their basket. Another twist on this is to have the child take a turn hiding the cards while you wait in the kitchen.

A deck of cards is a wonderful way to connect with children while teaching basic math concepts. Cards can also be used with older children (first through third grade). Look for my Homeschooling– Early Math all in a Deck of Cards Part II