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Name of Activity:

Card Play

Academic content:


Purpose of Activity:

To help children practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in a creative way.


Students will need to know how to add and subtract and/or multiply and divide.

Suggested Grade Level:


Materials Needed:

one deck of playing cards for twenty students

Physical activity:

locomotor movement, pathways

Description of Idea

Take out the Kings, Queens and Jacks from the deck of playing cards. (You will have 40 cards left.) Distribute two cards to each student and have the students spread out in general space. Explain that they must travel around the gym by different means (walking, skipping, jogging) and in different pathways (straight, zig-zagged, curved) to a cue, such as music or one blast of a whistle. When the music stops or the whistle blasts three times, the teacher will call out a number and a student must find another student and make an equation out of two of their cards, using a card from each student that equals the number called out. (The number called should be from 2 to 20 so it's not too difficult. The Ace card equals one.)

Addition, subtraction, division, or multiplication can be used in this activity. For example, if you call out the number six the two students will get together and examine their cards. If one student has a 2 and a 9 in their hand and the other child has a 3 then they can either use the 2 and 3 by multiplying to get 6 or they can use the 9 and 3 and subtract to get the number 6.

If you have a child that does not have a partner simply ask them, "What number could you have found to make an equation?" This way they can still participate and learn from the activity. Once everyone makes an equation, repeat the activity by varying the locomotor skill and the pathway used each time.


Have students perform a specific locomotor movement or pathway that they have been working on in the physical education classroom.

Scatter the cards around the gym and have the students skip around and find the cards as they travel. This might work better for younger students learning addition/subtraction.

To challenge students, you could require them to use three cards (ex: a 9, 6 and 2). To make "6" they could say "9 - 6 = 3, then 3 x 2 = 6."

Assessment Ideas:

Hold up or have on a sheet of paper two playing cards for each question (or three for higher levels) and have them make an equation that equals a certain number.

Have older students take two cards and make 4 equations using all four methods of math.

Have students write the equations down as they are doing the activity or try to find as many solutions as possible for each number called out.

Teaching Suggestions:

If playing cards aren't available, one could write out 4 sets of 1-10 cards.

Adaptations for Students with Disabilities:

If you have a hearing-impaired child in the class, when you call out the number hold up a card with the number so that they can see the number as well.

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Submitted by Carrie Metts in Clemson, SC. Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 5/27/2003.

Viewed 32149 times since 4/18/2003.

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