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Brief Description

This game can be adapted to reinforce math skills, vocabulary, much more.



  • practice math (or vocabulary, or many other skills) with this simple game.


game, math, vocabulary, computation

Materials Needed

  • a deck of game cards for every 4 or 5 students. See instructions for creating the cards in the Before You Play section of the Lesson Plan below.

Lesson Plan

This game can be easily adapted to any subject. In the example below, we will present the game as a math activity, but you could easily substitute vocabulary words or state capitals or presidents or

Before You Play
Create a set of game cards that relate to a student skill you would like to reinforce. For example, if you want to reinforce the skill of subtraction with borrowing/renaming, create a set of 30 cards with appropriate problems on them. For example,

  • 46 - 29 =
  • 52 - 43 =
  • 74 - 17 =
Duplicate that set of cards for each group of students in your class. (Since you will arrange students into groups of four or five, if you have 25 students you will want to create five sets of the cards.)

Stack those groups of 30 cards into a deck and then insert randomly into each deck two special cards on which the word BUSTED! is printed.

Play the Game
Arrange students into groups of four or five students. Give each group a deck of cards and explain the rules.

  • Arrange players into a circle. Put the deck in a spot in the center where all players have easy access to it.
  • Decide which player will go first. Player 1 draws a card from the top of the deck. The player shows the math problem on the card to the other players. All players calculate the answer. When Player 1 has calculated the answer, he or she shares that solution with other members of the group. If Player 1 is correct (if the answer matches the answer that others arrived at), s/he earns that card and keeps it. If Player 1 is incorrect, the card is discarded from the pile.
  • Move clockwise to the next player in the circle. Keep repeating this, until
  • If a player draws one of the two BUSTED! cards in the deck, he or she must give each player in the group one of the cards s/he has earned during regular play. If that player doesn't have enough cards to give each player a card, then s/he distributes the cards s/he does have in a clockwise order. The players who receive those "bonus cards" from the BUSTED! player need not solve a problem; they just accept the card. Once the player has distributed cards, play continues with the player seated to the right (clockwise) of the player who drew the BUSTED! card.
  • Play continues until the deck is depleted, or until time is up.


At the end of the game, the player with the most cards is the group winner. Does one of the group winners have more cards than any other group winner? If so, that player is the class winner.

Lesson Plan Source

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
GRADES 9 - 12
NM-NUM.9-12.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates

NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge

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