A simple, inexpensive deck of cards can provide lots of simple family fun.  Playing games also allows many opportunities to learn.  Taking turns, helping and encouraging others, waiting patiently, listening to directions, and learning new skills are all important.  Playing games is a great way to practice those skills without even knowing it.  These cards games can be played with the whole family or are simple enough for younger kids to play on their own, once they’ve been shown how.  They might even be excited to be able to teach others.

Feel free to vary the rules and make up your own versions; just make sure everyone knows what the rules are from the start to avoid confusion and frustration.

Who goes first?  Usually the person to the left of the dealer and then play continues in a counterclockwise direction (“to the left”).  Again, change things up sometimes; just make sure all players know the plan before you start playing.

Ideas for who goes first:

  • Pick a card out of the deck – high card (or low card) goes first.
  • Roll a die – high (or low) goes first.
  • Youngest player, oldest player, tallest, shortest
  • Most/Fewest letters in first name/middle name/full name.
  • Pick a name out a hat.
  • Decide who was the most helpful today and let him/her start the game.

Let kids deal too, even if Mom or Dad has to shuffle first.  Kids can “crazy shuffle” by putting all the cards upside on the table or floor and mixing them up and then putting them pack into a pile or even just dealing from the “messy” pile.

In some of these games you pay attention to the suits and some you don’t.  Suit – refers to hearts, diamonds, clubs, or spades that are on the cards.  Unless you have a super fun deck of cards, like our Care Bear deck, which as hearts, stars, flowers, and lucky four-leaf clovers.

“Face cards” refers to jacks, queens, and kings.

These games are good for all ages.  Kids elementary ages and older should be able to grasp the concepts pretty easily.  Younger kids may need assistance, but it provides for a great learning opportunity.

Practice good sportsmanship and friendly competition.  Encourage each other.  Games should be fun no matter what, not only if you win.  I always tell my kids whenever they play games or sports:


“If you have to win to have fun, don’t play.”

 

Printable Game Directions:

Color Version 5 Fun and Easy Card Games (pdf) 

Black and White Version 5 Fun And Easy Card Games (pdf)

Top-It

(also known as “War”)

Deck:  Number cards, ace – 10; no face cards or jokers

Number of Players:  Typically 2, but can be more – may need to set a few cards aside so each player has an equal amount.

Time: Varies.  You can decide to stop whenever you wish.

 

  1. Deal the entire deck out to all players, but do not look at the cards.
  2. Each player keeps his/her cards face down, in his/her own pile.
  3. Each player flips over one card from the top of his/her pile.
  4. The player with the highest number on his/her card takes all the cards that were just laid down, and can add them to the bottom of his/her pile.
  5. If two or more people flip over the same card and it is
    • the highest card, then each of the players should lay down another card face down on top of his/her first card and then another card face up – whoever has the highest card now, gets too take all the cards.  IF that is another tie, place another card face down, and then another one face up.
    • If it is not the highest card, the player who does have the takes all cards as usual.
  6. If time allows, you can keep playing until only one player is left with ALL the cards.

Variations:

«Addition Top-It

Each player flips over two cards instead of one, then add the cards together to see who has the higher combo.

«Subtraction Top-It

Each player flips over two cards instead of one, then subtract the lower number from the higher number the card to see who has the higher combo.

«Multiplication Top-It

Each player flips over two cards instead of one, then multiply the cards together to see who has the higher combo.

«Decide the lowest card wins the card instead of the highest.

King’s Corners

Deck:  All cards (no jokers)

Number of Players:  2+

Time: 5-10 minutes

  1. Deal each player six cards. Players may look at their own cards.
  2. Put the rest of the deck face down in the middle of all the players.
  3. Taking from the top of the deck, put one card on each side of the deck, face up.
  4. At the beginning of each player’s turn, he/she draws a card from the top of the deck and adds it to his/her hand.  Then the player looks at his/her cards to see if any cards from his/her hand can be placed on top of a card already on the “game area”.
    • Cards must count down, for example if there was a 5 on the game area, a 4 could be placed on top of it.
    • Cards must go every other color – red, black, red, black…(or black, red, black, red….)
    • Kings get placed or moved to the corners.
    • Players can move other cards around on the game area. For example, if a black 7 is at the top of one row of cards and a red 8 is open, the black 7 and the rest of the cards below it may be moved over.  This will then open a space up on the game area for another card to be moved over or played from the player’s hand.  Make sure not to leave any of the four main areas open.  An open spot is a free area for the player to lay any card he/she wishes.
    • Cards must be place on top of each other; Cards do not go behind ones already played.
  5. Players can play as many cards as they can from their hand each turn.
  6. A player is done when he/she says “Done”.
    • No more cards are drawn from the pile are drawn on a player’s turn, other than the one he/she draws before he/she begins play at the beginning of each turn.
    • If a player says “Done” and there are still things on the game area that could have been moved or spots could have been filled, they are still done and the next player gets a chance to find them.

OF COURSE DEPENDING ON AGES AND ABILITIES HELP EACH OTHER AND BE PATIENT.

  1. Keep taking turns until one person has played all the cards in his/her

Spoons

(or Pens or Toys or small pieces of candy…you get it…decide on something fun)

Deck:  All cards (no jokers)

Number of Players:  2+

Time: Usually pretty fast

Before beginning the game, grab one less spoon from the silverware drawer, than there are players.  So, if there are 4 players grab 3 spoons; if there are 6 players grab 5 spoons.

  1. Players sit in a close circle.
  2. Place the spoons in the middle of all the players, so everyone can reach them.
  3. Deal 4 cards to each player. Players may look at his/her own cards.
  4. The dealer takes one card off the top of the remaining deck, looks at it, then either
    • Passes the card drawn on to the next player. OR
    • Puts it in his/her hand and removes a different card from his/her hand to pass on.
  5. Then the next player gets to make the same decision – to keep or pass the card that was just given to him/her.  The dealer is the only one that takes cards off the deck.
  6. The dealer keeps drawing cards from the deck after he/she has passed a card on. So, multiple cards are in motion while the game is being played.  The last player in the circle (next to the dealer) can start a face down pile of the cards he/she passes on – the dealer can start drawing from those cards again, if the original deck is gone through and no own has won yet.

«The idea is that each player is attempting to get four of a kind, of his/her choice, but does not tell the other players.  For example, you may be trying to accumulate four 2’s or four queens.  Since there is only four of each card within a deck, there is a chance some players are trying to collect the same cards, but no one knows that.

« Each player may only have four cards in his/her hand at a time.

«As soon as a player does have four of kind he/she grabs a spoon from the center.  Immediately after seeing a spoon missing then the other players also grab the remaining spoons.  They do not have to have four of a kind.
«Since there is one less spoon than players, one player will not get one.  That player is them eliminated from the next round.  The other players play another game with even one fewer spoon and keep continuing as such until there is a final winner.  Otherwise, you can let everyone play every time.

Speed

Deck:  All cards.  (no jokers)  Face cards can be used, or don’t have to be.

Number of Players:  2

Time: Really fast

Helpful if players know numbers and can figure out what is one number higher and lower and lower than each number.

  1. Get the game area ready by placing two single cards, face down, in the middle and two piles of 5 cards, face down, on each side.  So, they are all in a row.
  2. Players will sit across from each other with the game area in front of them and within easy reach.
  3. Deal the rest of the deck out to both players. So each player has a pile of 20 cards.   Keep all cards face down.
  4. Each player takes the top five cards off his/her own pile and looks at them. Suggestion:  Arrange them in order by number.  Color doesn’t matter.
  5. When play begins, each player will be placing cards on either of the two center piles of the game area – having the numbers go up (ascending) or down (descending). The next card can then either go up or down.  For example:  if a 9 is on the game area, either player may lay a 10 or an 8, as fast as they can.
  • If an 8 is played, then the next card on that pile would need to be a 7 or a 9.
  • If a 10 was played the next card would then be a jack or a 9.
  • An ace can be laid on a king and a king can be placed on an ace.

ace, 1, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, jack, queen, king, ace

  1. Play begins by each player, simultaneously, flipping over one of the single cards on the game area.  Both players may lay cards on both piles.
  2. Players may always have 5 cards in their hands. So, once cards are laid on the game area, more cards can be drawn from the top of each of their own piles.
  3. If neither player is able to play, then a card from the secondary piles (the piles that originally had 5 cards each on the game area) on the game area gets flipped over and then play can resume from the players’ hands. If those 5 cards all end up being flipped, and more “not able to play” cards are needed then the primary piles on the game area can be flipped over and used again.
  4. Game is over when a player has no cards left in his/her hand or pile.

Crazy Eights

(This game is simular to UNO)

Deck:  Number Cards only

Number of Players:  2+

Time: 5 minutes

Ages/Abilities: All

  1. Each player gets 5 cards. Players may look at their own cards.
  2. Put the remaining cards in a face down pile, in the middle of the game area.
  3. Flip one card over from the pile.
  4. The first player then needs to place a card from his/her hand that is the same number or same suit as the flipped over card on top of the flipped card.
  5. Players continue, only playing one card that matches the number or suit per turn.
  6. If a player doesn’t have a card to play, he/she can draw one from the pile. If that card isn’t able to be played it is then added to the player’s hand and it’s the next player’s turn.
  7. 8’s are They are wild cards and when someone plays an 8, he/she may then decide what suit should be played next.  The next player doesn’t need to lay an 8.
  8. Game is over, when one player has played all his/her cards.

We love to play games.  Sometimes I forget how easy they can be and how little time is needed to have fun while being together.  What are some of your easy go- to games?  How about your all time favorites?  Please share in the comments section below.

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