Fishing For Fun!

2 min

Modified ‘Go Fish’ Game Teaches Math Skills

Playing card games together is a family activity everyone loves. Did you know that while you’re playing cards you’re also doing math? It’s a great way for kids to build their basic math skills while having fun.

The classic game Go Fish shows children that numbers can be “broken” into pieces to make adding and subtracting easier. All you need is a deck of cards, making it easy to play anywhere – inside, outside, at home, or on vacation!

Number of players: 2+

Goal: Match all of the cards into pairs. The player with the most pairs of cards wins!

How to play:

  1. Choose a target number and remove all cards that are equal to, or higher than that number, and set them aside. For example, if practicing making pairs of 10, remove all 10s, jacks, queens and kings. Note: aces represent the number 1.
  2. Choose a dealer: Give each person one card from the deck. The one who receives the highest card is the dealer.  
  3. Shuffle cards and deal a minimum of 3 cards to each person and place the remaining cards in the middle. (This is the “fish pond.”)
  4. Play begins with the person to the left of the dealer. 
  5. The first player selects one number from their hand and asks any other player if they have the card they would need to make a pair totaling the target number. For example, if the target number is 10 and the player selected a 3, they would ask another player for a 7. 
    1. If the player does not have the requested card: they say “go fish!” and the first player must select a card from the “fish pond.” Their turn is over.
    2. If the player does have the requested card: The requested card is given to the asking player. The first player may continue asking other players for cards until they are told to “go fish!” They then select a card from the “fish pond” and end their turn.
  6. When the first player’s turn is over, play continues to their left.
  7. Repeat until all the cards are matched into pairs!

Putting a few new spins on this old classic can keep the game fresh and make it more or less challenging for children of different ages and math abilities. Here are some ideas:

  • Decrease the target number for younger children (i.e. a target of five), giving them fewer cards to play with
  • Increase the target for older children
  • Add jacks, queens, and kings into play
  • Make it special by including small prizes or snacks
  • Start a new weekly family tradition!