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A Simple Card Game to Promote National Math Standards

“Roll for a Card” is a fun game that I have played with my own children and students to sharpen early learning skills. It's fun, easy, and takes about 15-20 minutes to play.

Items Needed: One die from a pair of dice, and a deck of playing cards. (Use the cover design side of the cards, not the number side.)

Players: One adult, one child, or up to four players in total. You can play this game at a table, on the floor, on top of the bed covers, at the beach, on a picnic blanket, or any flat surface where you and your child are comfortable.


  • Put the cards in a pile face down, in the middle of the players. The first player rolls the die and counts the number of dots on top. She takes that many cards from the center pile, to start her own pile of cards.
  • Additional players roll the die, count the dots, and start their own pile of cards.
  • The game is over when all the cards are gone. The winner is the player with the most cards in their own pile. (You may have to help your child count their total number of cards. If they do need help, simply put one card down for each number you count. This is reinforcing one-to-one correspondence yet again!)

This simple game helps your four-to-six year old understand four crucial beginning math skills named in national education standards.

They are:

  • one-to-one correspondence (seeing the number 6, for example, and correctly counting out 6 objects)
  • understanding grouping (separate piles of similar objects)
  • understanding quantity (how additional rolls of the die increase the size of the card pile,) and understanding the concept of “more and less.”


Note from School Family: Lots of helpful articles in our Building Math Skills article archive.

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#4 Mary 2010-02-18 23:04
This sounds like fun. I can not wait to try it with my preschoolers.
#3 Susan 2010-02-18 17:41
This is a great idea. And, with adaptation, the game could be used for all math operations through fractions, percents, and decimals, at least until the child thinks such games are no longer cool. Beyond counting dots, it becomes an alternative to flash cards, and, fun when more than one player is involved. Finally, this is something I could easily add to my substitute teacher toolkit. Thanks!
#2 gio 2010-02-18 17:25
easy and fun game for may little one. thank you!
#1 Martha 2010-02-05 19:58
What an easy and convenient activity! Thanks

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