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Lesson Plan

 War With Math


  • Mathematics


  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

The traditional card game of War is used to practice math facts.


Students will

  • follow the rules of the game.
  • play fairly.
  • compute math-facts accurately and quickly.


math facts, game, addition facts, multiplication facts, times tables, subtraction facts, War, cards, card game, addition, subtraction, multiplication, multiplication tables

Materials Needed

  • a deck of cards for each pair of students

Lesson Plan

About the Game
Arrange students into pairs to play this game. (After students master the game, they might play in teams of three or four.) Provide each pair of students with a deck of cards. The game is played in much the way the traditional card game War is played. The biggest difference is that players add (or subtract or multiply) the cards they reveal.


To arrange students into pairs, you might try this random method.
  • Count out index cards so you have one for each student.
  • Write on one card a simple math problem (e.g., 5 x 7) and write the answer to that problem (35) on a second card. Continue writing problems and solutions until you have written something on all the cards. Note: Be sure all the solution cards have a different number on them; in that way, only one problem card will match each solution card.
  • Pass out the cards to students. Put a card face down on each students desk. (If you have an odd number of students, you hold one of the cards.)
  • When you say "Go," each student flips over his or her card, reads it, and tries to locate the classmate with the matching card. When they find each other, the partners can begin playing the game below. If you have an odd number of students, the student who was holding the card that matched yours might play War with you or you might ask one of the pairs if they will allow a third person to be part of their game.

Before Playing
Choose the operation -- addition, subtraction, or multiplication -- you want students to practice. Each number card is worth its face value (e.g., the 7 of clubs has a value of 7). The Ace has a value of 1. Decide if you want students to leave in or take out the face cards. If you leave them in the game, decide what values those cards might have. For example:

  • all face cards might have a value of 0.
  • all face cards might have a value of 10.
  • all face cards might have a value of 12.
  • a joker might have a value of 0, a jack might have a value of 10, a queen might have a value of 11, and a king might have a value of 12.

Rules for Play

  • Shuffle the deck of cards and place it face down.
  • Each student draws a card from the top of the deck and reveals the card. Cards can be revealed one at a time or at the same time.
  • When both cards are revealed, students must perform the assigned operation on the cards. For example, if one student flips over a 5 of hearts and the other flips over a 9 of spades, then the students add in their heads the value of those two cards. 5 + 9 = 14. The first student to call out "14" wins those two cards.
  • Play continues in this manner until the end of a predetermined time or until one student has all the cards. If time runs out, the student with the most cards wins.


Students will have enjoyed the game and gotten some good practice from playing it. Many will ask if they can use the card decks to play the game with a partner in their free time.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations
GRADES Pre-K - 2
NM-NUM.PK-2.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
GRADES 3 - 5
NM-NUM.3-5.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
GRADES 6 - 8
NM-NUM.6-8.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates

Find more great math teaching ideas in Education World's Math Center.

Click to return to the Lesson Planning article, Just the Facts: Five Games for Teaching Math Facts.