Math Concepts: number symbols, numerical order, thinking ahead.
Players: two or more.
Equipment: one math deck of playing cards (remove face cards and jokers), or a double deck for more than four players; additional cards to use as train cars.
Give each player four to six miscellaneous cards (such as the face cards and jokers you removed from the card deck) to serve as the cars of their number trains.
Lay these cards face down in a horizontal row, as shown. Shuffle the math card deck and spread it on the table as a fishing pond.
How to Play
On your turn, draw one card and play it face up on one of your train cars. The numbers on your train must increase from left to right, but they do not need to be in consecutive order. If you do not have an appropriate blank place for your card, you have two choices:
• Mix the new card back into the fishing pond.
• Use the new number to replace one of your other cards, and then discard the old one.
The first player to complete a train of numbers that increases from left to right wins the game.
House Rule: Decide how strict you will be about the “increases from left to right” rule and repeated numbers. Does “1, 3, 3, 7, 8” count as a valid number train? Or will the player have to keep trying for a card to replace one of the threes?
For older players: You can adapt Number Train to play with more advanced students:
- Play Joe Schwartz’s version with two-digit numbers.
- Check out John Golden’s fantastic Decimal Point Pickle.
- Or experiment with exponential number trains.
This post is an excerpt from my book Counting & Number Bonds: Math Games for Early Learners, available now at your favorite online book dealer.
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