Four card games to play with your child that are super simple.
Don’t worry, this isn’t “how to teach your child solitaire” or “toddler’s first Bridge game”. I promise. Adjust your meaning of the term “card game” down to a toddler level and now we’re talking. We’re talking super simple card games.
Playing cards were a supply I used all.the.time in my kindergarten classroom (BK – before kids). It’s way more fun to show a playing card #5 plus a playing card #2 than just writing 5+2 on a piece of paper. Playing cards are little pieces of laminated magic. Trust me. They’re instant math fun.
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I haven’t used playing cards before in an activity with toddler so this was a brand new project supply for us to play with. It was a hit. We sat together for about 20 minutes (twenty minutes!!!) playing with our cards. Definitely wasn’t an independent, “I can unload the dishwasher while supervising him” kind of activity, but it had so much learning in it that I had to share.
During our 20 minute card-fest party, I came up with 4 super simple card games to share with you (remember the term game is being used rather loosely here).
Just seeing the cards was an “oooooh, aaaaah” moment for him. We started by inspecting them and I showed him the different suits and colors. He was hooked. The buy-in factor was totally there for this activity.
Game 1: Simple Sorting.
I pulled out 3 cards from each suit (12 cards total) and laid them face up for my 2.5 year old toddler. I put a red card on the left and a black one on the right and simply asked him to sort the cards by color. Simple enough, a great “ice breaker” activity for our first game with the playing cards. Sorting is such an important math skill so he’s learning tons here classifying by color.
Game 2: Make a Match.
I took the 12 cards from the sorting activity and paired them down to just six. This time, he needed to flip the cards over to find matching suits. We did this in the same vein as Memory, but think toddler memory so mostly just flipping over random cards until we found two diamonds, two hearts, and two spades. I don’t know why the clubs didn’t get to play here – apparently they were in time out or something.
Game 3: 52 card pick up.
I’m not kidding in the least. I’m 100% serious that we did this. I let him throw the whole set around. Obviously, parameters and guidelines were given, but I let him go for it. He threw them up, he made it rain, he did what every little kid wants to do with a stack of card. And then he’d scoop them all up and do it again. Actually, it was a nice little gross motor skills intermission during our card play with his jumping and dancing here.
Game 4: Guess and Sort.
Once things simmered down from our 52 card pick up, we worked together to turn every card upside down. Then, we started a pile of black and a pile of red at opposite ends of the massive upside down pile of cards. He’d touch a card, guess red or black, flip to reveal and insert toddler giggles here. Didn’t matter if he was right or wrong, he loved every minute of the anticipation and flipping the cards over. A perfect way to end our card play!
Ok so maybe he isn’t moments away from learning Cribbage, but he is starting to see the fun and value of playing cards and Future Me is thrilled about that. Playing cards will become very valuable tools in our lives in the coming years so I’m happy to expose him to them already with these simple card games.