The Math Spiral

This is a very fun card game! My students always loved this game, even my fifth graders! I used items I had around my house for this game. I used a deck of cards, dice from my Yahtzee game, and pouch tops from my kids squeeze packs as game pieces but you could also use game pieces from any other board game, beads, coins, etc!

Math Skills Focus:

Addition (See end of post for other variations including multiplication, subtraction, or number recognition)

You will need:

- Deck of playing cards
- Game pieces for each player (board game pieces, pouch tops, beads, etc)
- 1 or 2 dice

How to Play

The object of this game is to be the first player to make it to the finish!

Face Card Values (Optional)

- Ace = 1
- Jack = 11
- Queen = 12
- King = 13

You may want to have a note card with the Face Card values written down for easy reference.

Step 1: Build a spiral! You can use the entire deck of cards, or you can use only part of the deck of cards depending on how long you would like the game to be. This spiral of cards will be your game board. You can use the same board for multiple games, or create a new board each time to change up the card order. I usually use a face card or a joker flipped over as the start and finish cards.

Step 2: Each player puts their game pieces at the center of the spiral. This is the start of the game.

Step 3: To start, the first player rolls a die and moves that number of cards on the game board. They must then add the number on their die with the value of the card they landed on. If they solve it correctly, they stay there. If they do not solve it correctly, they must go back to their previous position.

Players then take turns rolling, solving math problems, and moving around the game board.

If a player lands on a card with another player on it, they knock that player back to start.

If a player lands on a “double,” meaning the number on their die and the value of their card is the same, they get an extra turn and get to roll again!

To win the game, you need to land EXACTLY on the last card by rolling the exact number on the die to get to the finish card.

Other ways to Play

Depending on the age and ability of your child, you can change this game to practice all sorts of math concepts.

Multiplication: Roll the die multiply the number on their die with the value of the card they landed on.

Subtraction: Roll the die subtract the number of their die with the value of the card they landed on. Make sure to remind your child to start with the larger number for subtraction. For example, if they roll 6 and land on a ‘3’ card, they need to do 6-3 not 3-6. If they roll a 2 and land on a ‘7’ card, they need to do 7-2, not 2-7.

Number Recognition: Remove all of the face cards and have children state the number they land on instead of performing any math operations.

Winner Takes All Addition

2 Players

Math Skills Focus: Addition

You will need:

- Deck of cards
- Recording Sheet (Optional)

How to Play:

Each player turns over two cards and adds them together.

Face Cards Values (Optional)

- Ace = 1 or 11
- Jack, Queen, King = 10

The player with the greatest sum wins all the cards.

Continue until all the cards are gone.

Example: Player One’s hand is 10 + 2 = 12 and Player Two’s hand is 6+ 5 = 11. Player one wins and takes all four cards.

Other Ways to Play

You can modify this game depending on the age and ability of your child using some of the options below:

Make the game easier by taking higher digit cards and face cards out of the deck.

Make the game harder by adding 3 cards instead of 2 cards.

Winner Takes All Subtraction

2 Players

Math Skills Focus: Subtraction

You will need:

- Deck of cards
- Recording Sheet (Optional)

How to Play:

Each player turns over two cards and subtracts the smaller digit from the larger digit. The player with the smallest difference wins all the cards

Face Cards Values (Optional)

- Ace = 1 or 11
- Jack, Queen, King = 10

Continue until all the cards are gone.

Example: Player One’s hand is 7 -3 = 4 and Player Two’s hand is 9 – 4 = 5. Player one wins and takes all four cards.

Other Ways to Play

You can modify this game depending on the age and ability of your child using some of the options below:

Make the game easier by taking higher digit cards and face cards out of the deck.

Make the game harder by adding 3 cards instead of 2 cards. This would create 2- digit minus 1-digit subtraction.

Winner Takes All Multiplication

2 Players

Math Skills Focus: Multiplication

You will need:

- Deck of cards
- Recording Sheet (Optional)

How to Play:

Each player turns over two cards and multiplies to get a product. The player with the largest product wins all the cards.

Face Cards Values (Optional)

- Ace = 1 or 11
- Jack, Queen, King = 10

Continue until all the cards are gone.

Example: Player One’s hand is 3 x 10 = 30 and Player Two’s hand is 3 x 5 = 15. Player one wins and takes all four cards.

Other Ways to Play

You can modify this game depending on the age and ability of your child using some of the options below:

Make the game easier by taking higher digit cards and face cards out of the deck.

Make the game harder by adding 3 cards instead of 2 cards. This would create 2- digit times 1-digit multiplication.

Make the game harder by adding 4 cards instead of 2 cards. This would create 2- digit times 2-digit multiplication.

You can use this FREE recording sheet below for any of the Winner Takes All games.

These games are all great ways to practice facts for addition, subtraction, and multiplication through play. I hope you enjoy playing these with your students or with your family!