Let's Play Cards!
Cards can be a parents best friend! Try these classic games to keep you and the kiddos entertained. Try them all!
Click on the game you want to try to see the instructions in case you forgot how to play.
Players: 3-6 players
Objective: To have the most pairs by the end of the game
Set up: Each player is dealt 7 cards and the remaining cards are spread out in a circle in the middle of the group (or kept in a deck if space is limited).
The rules: Starting with the youngest person, each player takes a turn asking any of the other players for a type of card (e.g. “Kim, do you have any 7’s?” or “Bill, do you have any Jacks?”).
If the player being asked does have the card being requested, they must give the asker that card, and the asker gets another turn. If they do not have the card being requested, they say “go fish” and the asker needs to pick up a card from the center pile. If they pick up the card they requested, they must show the group and they can take another turn. Otherwise, play continues with the person to their left.
When a player gets a pair of cards (two 7’s, two Queens etc.), they put the pair down in front of them. If a player has no more cards left before the game ends, they should draw two cards to continue play.
The game ends when all of the pairs have been made.
Variants: To make the game harder make it so that pairs only count when the cards are of the same number and the same color or make it so that you must make 4 of a kind before putting down the set. In the 4 of a kind variant players must forfeit all of the cards of that number when asked for them (e.g. if Adam is asked if he has any Kings and he has three Kings he must give up all three Kings).
Players: 2 players Age: 4+
Objective: To finish the game with all of the cards in your hand.
Set up: Divide the deck equally between the two players. Players should not look at their cards.
The rules: In unison, the two players should reveal their top card. Whoever has the card of the higher value (Aces are high) wins the round and places the two cards face down in their “capture” pile. If the two cards being flipped are of equal value a “war” commences. In a war each player places his top three cards face down behind the initial card and then places the fourth card face up. The player who’s fourth card is of higher value wins all of the cards in the war. If the fourth cards are again of equal value the process is repeated until someone wins.
When a player runs out of cards in their hand they shuffle the cards in their capture pile and continue play. If a player runs out of cards during a war the last card that the player has played should be flipped face up and used to determine the winner of the war.
The game ends when one player has all the cards.
Players: 2 players
Objective: To be the first player to get rid of all the cards in your hand.
Set up: Each player is dealt 5 cards and the remainder of the cards are placed in the center of the table. The top card of the center deck is flipped face up and placed next to the middle deck. If an 8 is placed face up it should be put in the center of the deck and a new card should be placed face up.
The rules: Starting to the left of the dealer, each player must place a card on top of the face up deck in the middle. The card played (unless It is an 8) must match the suit or number of the card before it. If a player is unable to play, they should draw cards from the middle deck until they can play (face up deck may need to be shuffled back into the drawing deck if the cards run out).
Eights are wild and can be played on anything. Once played, the player can choose what suit must be matched next.
The game ends when one player has no cards remaining in their hand.
Variants: Feel free to add special abilities to any of the other cards to make it more interesting “e.g. Jacks can skip, 7s are reverse”.
Players: 3-6 players
Objective: To end the game without holding the Old Maid card.
Set up: If you do not have an old maid card deck, remove all of the queens from a standard card deck except for one of them, or add a joker to a full deck. The queen or joker will be your Old Maid card. Deal all of the cards to the players until there are no cards left. For younger kids, you can also make a smaller deck with only 10 pairs and a queen as the old maid.
The rules: Each player picks up their cards and takes out any “pairs” of cards and places them face up in front of them. A pair is any two cards that have the same value and the same color.
After all the pairs are removed from the players hands the game begins. Starting with the dealer, each player takes turns fanning out their cards and allowing the player to their left to choose one, without allowing that player to see any of the cards they are choosing from. As players make pairs they should discard them face up in front of them.
The game ends when all of the matches have been made. The person left with the old maid loses.
Variants: To change up the game, play a few rounds where the person left with the old maid is the winner of the game. You can even change the cards name to “the superhero” “the princess” etc.
Players: 3-6 players
Objective: To collect the most matches by the end of the game.
Set up: Shuffle the cards and lay them all face down in a square so that every card is visible (e.g. a 4x13 card grid).
The rules: Each player takes a turn flipping two cards over to try and make a match. A match is any two cards of the same value. If the player does not make a match they must flip the cards back to being face down. Their turn is over and the next player tries. If a player does make a match they take the pair from the board and keep it near themselves and they can take another turn.
The game ends when all the pairs have been removed from the board.
Variants: To make the game more challenging play with a rule that cards are only considered a match if they have the same number value and are the same color.
Players: 4-8 players
Objective: To be one of the people with a spoon.
Additional Material: One less spoon than there are players (e.g. if there are 6 players, you will need 5 spoons). Spoons can be replaced with other household objects such as popsicle sticks or unsharpened pencils. Do not play with sharp or fragile items.
Set up: Place one less spoons than there are players in the middle of the playing area. Deal out 4 cards to each player, leaving the remaining cards in a stack next to the dealer.
The rules: The goal is to get a 4 of a kind and grab a spoon. If someone gets a 4 of a kind before you then the goal is to grab one of the spoons before there are none left.
The dealer begins by picking up a card from the stack and deciding if they want to keep the card or pass the card. If they keep the card they must pass another card onto the person on their left. Once the card is passed, the dealer picks up another card from the stack and the player next to the dealer picks up the card they were just passed. Again they both look at the card and decide what card they want to pass on, and the process is repeated.
This is a fast-paced game so passes should be quick. This can be helped by the dealer calling out “1-2-3-pass; 1-2-3-pass…” to make sure everyone stays on the same tempo. By the time the dealer has exhausted their draw pile a discard pile should have been made by the person to their right and they can begin drawing from there.
Once someone gets a 4 of a kind they should grab a spoon. Once one spoon has been taken anyone else can grab a spoon and they should do so as quickly as possible before there are no spoons left. Whoever does not get a spoon is out the next round. If someone mistakenly grabs a spoon when there were no 4 of a kinds than the first person that touched the spoon loses that round automatically. Continue play until there is only one player remaining. (don’t stop playing once a spoon is grabbed, it is funny to see how long it takes people to notice!)
The game ends when everyone but one player has been knocked out of the game.
Variants: If there are no spoons available you can play that once you get 4 of a kind you stick out your tongue, and the last one to do so loses.
Another variant is to take out as many 4 of a kinds as there are players and play without the deck next to the dealer (e.g. if there are 5 players only play with 20 cards: the Aces, 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s).
This means that people have to be a lot more careful with their timing since everyone starts passing all at once.
If you want a longer game don’t immediately disqualify a person for loosing but instead give them a letter (e.g. P if you want to spell “pig” or an S if you want to spell “spoons”). They loose once they spell the full word.
Players: 3-6 players
Objective: To be the first to get rid of all your cards.
Set up: Deal all the cards out evenly to the players until there are no cards left.
The rules: The player to the left of the dealer starts. They place all of their Ace’s face down in the center, announcing what they just played (“one ace” “three ace’s” etc.) If the player does not have any Ace’s they play a different card in their hand while still telling the group that it is an Ace. The player can also play more Ace’s than they actually have (i.e. telling the group they are playing two Ace’s even though it is really one Ace and one 7).
After the first person goes the second player then plays 2’s, the next 3’s, 4’s etc. After the Kings are played it goes back to Ace’s.
If at any point a someone suspects that a player is not putting down what they say they are, the suspecting player should yell “CHEAT!”. The person who put down the cards must than flip the cards they just played face up to reveal what they actually put down. If the player was not lying, the person who called out CHEAT must take all the cards from the center. If the player was lying, the lying player must take all the cards from the center. The game resumes where it left off.
The game ends when one player has gotten rid of all of their cards. For a longer game play can continue to find out a second place, third place, etc..
Players: 2 players
Objective: To be the first to get rid of all your cards.
Set up: The deck should be evenly split between the two players. Each player should place 5 piles in front of them in a line. The first pile should have one card, the second two cards, and so on until the fifth pile has five cards. Turn the top card of each pile face up. The player should keep their remaining cards in a pile, face down, in their hand.
The rules: When each player is ready they should both say “spit” and put the top card from the deck in their hand face up in the middle of the playing area. These two face up cards will be the bases for the two “spit piles”.
Once those cards are in play the players can place cards from their 5 piles face up onto either of the two spit piles. To place a card on a spit pile it has to be one value above or below the value of the card on top of the spit pile (e.g. a 9 or a Jack can be played on a 10) Aces are wrap around cards and can be played on either a King or a 2, and vice versa.
When a player moves a card from their one of the piles in front of them onto the spit piles they should flip the next card in the pile face up. A player is allowed 5 face up cards in their play area at a time, so if the last card in one of the piles is played, the player can take a face up card from one of the other piles and place it in the empty spot.
This is a fast-paced game and players do not take turns. If at any point neither player can play a card both players should again say “spit” simultaneously and place a new card from the deck in their hand face up onto the spit piles.
The round ends when one player runs out of the cards in front of them, or there are no legal moves left in play and neither player has cards in their hand to put onto the spit piles. When this happens both players should slap one of the spit piles. The players than pick up the pile they slapped. If both players slap the same pile the player who slapped it first gets the pile. The goal is to get rid of all your cards, so players should go for the pile with less cards.
Players pick up the piles they got, shuffle, and repeat the round. If during a new setup a player does not have enough cards to complete the setup, they should set up as much as they can, and place one card face down as a spit pile. The game ends when one player has no cards left and slaps the empty pile.
Players: 2-4 players
Objective: To have the most bundles of cards at the end of the game.
Set up: The dealer deals each player four cards and deals 4 cards face up in the middle of the playing area. Each player can look at their own 4 cards but should not show their opponents.
The rules: The player to the left of the dealer starts. The player must play a card face up on the playing area. If their card matches any of the other cards on the table they take the two cards in a “bundle” and place their bundle face up in front of them. Any other matches or bundles they take will also go on top of their existing bundle so that each player only has one bundle at a time, with the last card played being the one visible. After the player plays a card, they should also draw a card so that they always start and end their turn with 4 cards. The next player than does the same but can now also “steal” the bundle that is in front of any of the other players if they hold a matching card.
The game ends when all the players have played all of their cards. Everyone should count their bundles to see who has the most cards in their bundles. The player with the most cards wins.
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