Teach Math with UNO
Use the UNO Card Game to Teach Math Skills
Everybody remembers playing UNO as a kid, but did you know that UNO can be a fun, effective way for children as young as two or three years old to learn important math skills? Read on for tips on how to teach math with UNO to children as young as two years old.
UNO for Toddlers: Keep It Simple - Number Recognition, Same/Different
Two- and three-year-olds may be ready to play UNO on teams with older players. At this age they can begin to name numbers and colors, then determine whether or not their cards are the same as or different from the card on top of the discard pile. Help your little one avoid confusion and frustration by playing open hands with the numbers all facing the same way. Keep the special cards (skip, reverse, draw two, and wilds) out of the deck at first and introduce them when the child is ready. You may even want to start with only the numbers one through five. At this age, keep competition to a minimum and celebrate every good play.
Photo credit: "One Uno, Two Uno Uno" by Sumiah Salloum
UNO for Toddlers: Keep It Moving
Exercise the body as well as the mind
To make UNO more physically active for fidgety youngsters, forget about the discard pile and make a discard row instead that runs along the table or floor. Children get to move more as play gets further and further from the draw pile. It also leaves a visual record of the game in case you'd like to review. Another way to increase physical activity is for the players do an exercise (jumping jacks or walking around the table) a number of times equal to the number of the card played.
Best UNO cards for toddlers? You decide. - Vote for your child's (or your own) favorite character.
Mattel offers "My First UNO" King-Size cards themed with a variety of children's favorite characters. These sets offer bigger cards for little hands, and fewer cards in the deck to keep it simple.
UNO for Preschoolers: Counting
Counting Up and Down by Ones and Twos
As children develop in their understanding of the game and in numbers, introduce sequencing. Instead of playing the same number as the card on the discard pile, play one number higher or lower. You can even introduce counting up and down by twos. At this age, children may want to hold their cards in their hands and play more competitively.
UNO for Preschoolers: War
Recognizing bigger and smaller numbers
War might be the world's easiest card game. Take out the special cards (or make special rules and leave them in). Deal all the cards out face down. On an agreed signal (a three-count for example) all players flip their top cards face up. The player with the highest card keeps all the cards, placing them at the bottom of his or her stack. In case of a tie the players flip another card (or two or three). The winner gets all the cards that are face up. The game ends when one player has all the cards or boredom sets in. It's usually the adult who first tires of War. Of course this game can be played with a regular deck justa as well as with an UNO deck.
Kindergarten through Elementary School
To practice addition, the player solves for the sum of the number on the discard pile and the number on the card he/she is playing. For example while playing a 3 on a 4, the player says, "3 + 4 = 7." If the player forgets to say this and another player says it first, the one who played the card has to draw a card or two.
Another way to practice addition is to allow a player to play two or more cards that add up to the number on the discard pile. For example, a player may play a 3 and a 4 on a 7.
You can add or substitute subtraction, multiplication or even division into these games.
Another math card game to practice addition and subtraction facts
Remove all of the special cards from the UNO deck, leaving only the numbers. Place them in a pile face-down. The first player draws a card and places it face down next to the draw pile, stating the number on the card. The next player draws a card, states the sum of the two cards and places the drawn card on top of the pile. The next player draws and adds the number of the newly drawn card to the previous sum. Play continues until the total reaches 21. The player whose card makes the sum exactly 21 gets the whole pile of cards. If the sum exceeds 21, then players subtract the number on the drawn card from the total. Play continues until the sum or difference is exactly 21.
Like all the best math games, children forget that they are practicing their math facts. There's nothing magical about the number 21. Fee free to change it. In fact after one game when the number "22" came up several times, my kids wanted to change the target number to 22. We did, and it became a a good opportunity to talk about and test theories of probability. (Just because 22 showed up several times in one game doesn't mean it will in the next.) This game works fine with a deck or two of regular playing cards too. Just take out the face cards and count aces as 1s.
Fast-paced addition and subtraction game for three players
Remove all the special cards, leaving only the number cards. Deal all of the cards, face down, to two of the players. The two players simultaneously take their top cards and, without looking at them, hold the cards to their foreheads so they can see each other's card but not their own. The third player states the sum of the two cards. The first two players figure out what is on their own cards by subtracting the number on their opponents card from the total. Whoever correctly says the number on his own card first gets both cards and play continues until all the cards have been played. The winner is the player with the most cards at the end. Be sure to rotate roles so everyone gets addition and subtraction practice. This game can be played with regular playing cards too, but I like that UNO cards have zeroes in the deck.
UNO: The Classic Card Game
Of course you can stick with classic UNO, or even play Crazy Eights or Mau Mau with a regular deck of playing cards. However, if you want to try something new, here are five fancy UNO variations that Mattel has come up with. The only one I've tried myself is UNO Attack! which is actually pretty fun; it adds a little adrenaline to the game without taking anything away. If you've tried any. please share your experience in the comments.
Spice Up Your UNO Games with House Rules
UNO is famous for being played with slightly (or extremely) different rules from house to house. Mattel held a contest for the most popular house rules and added the top three as rule variations. "Jump-in" UNO allows a player to discard out of turn when holding the exact card that is on top of the discard pile. "Seven-O" UNO calls for players to pass or exchange cards when a certain card is played. "Progressive" UNO allows the victim of a draw-two or draw-four card to play the same kind of card and pass the obligation to draw on to the next player.( source)
Whatever house rules you choose, make sure they are appropriate to your child's age and development.
How do you use UNO or other games to make learning math fun?