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Name of Activity:

Three Card Pursuit

Academic content:

Math Facts

Purpose of Activity:

Students will be able to demonstrate math fact proficiency in a dynamic physical activity setting


Students will need to have learned basic math facts that have been taught in the classroom, depending on the grade level.

Suggested Grade Level:


Materials Needed:

Enough soft balls/yarn balls for one-third of your class size.

Physical activity:

Chasing and Fleeing

Description of Idea

Each student receives three playing cards. Depending on the class size, you will need at least 2-3 decks of cards, sorting out numbered cards 3-9. Choose one-third of students to be pursuit-players, who hold in one hand a soft/yarn ball that is visible to classmates. Pursuit-players chase others, attempting to touch them with the soft object/ball. When touched, the two players stop and face each other, multiply the two larger numbers of cards in their hands and add the third card number. The player who has the larger total number either keeps the soft/yarn ball or takes it. In the case of a tie score, the player with the yarn ball keeps it.

After the activity, the two students exchange two cards (This ensures players have different math facts to solve each time they face an opponent.) and then begin the activity. The pursuit-player chases a different student, not immediately chasing the player (s)he just chased/played. The game continues indefinitely.


For Kindergarten students, play with 2 cards and/or sort out decks to use cards numbered 2-6. For Grades 1-2, play with 3 cards but use addition facts instead of multiplication. 3rd graders should multiply the two smaller numbers, instead of multiplying two larger numbered cards for grades 4-5. You can also adapt the numbered cards: an extra challenge would be to include picture cards (Jacks=11, Queens=12, Kings=13, Aces=14). For students who need extra help with math facts, you can use lower numbered cards from the decks. Subtraction also works in this game.

Assessment Ideas:

The instructor can assess math fact accuracy by means of checking in on pairs of students while they are performing math facts. Allow students to assess and help each other with math facts, as needed.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities

If there is a student in your class who travels in a wheelchair, have the whole class play this game sitting on a scooter board to travel. If students need assistance with rules of game and/or math facts, have them pair up with a buddy to serve as a role model.

Submitted by Dave Isenberg who teaches at Millville Elementary School in Worcester, MA. Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 1/24/2013.
Viewed 57385 times since 12/26/2012.

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Three Card Pursuit

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