Let's Play Another Game

K, 1, 2

Students learn new card-playing vocabulary, classify by attributes, practice counting, and follow rules to cooperatively play a game. 

PrintOne 40-minute and one 30-minute class period

The learner will:

  • identify attributes and sort or classify cards by shape/suit.
  • count the number of cards representing each shape/suit.
  • recognize the new vocabulary words attribute and classify.
  • follow rules to play a card game.
  • a business suit that the teacher or a student can put on over his or her clothes as a demonstration
  • a display of the playing card shapes: heart, spade, club, diamond
  • one deck of playing cards for each group of four learners
  • copy of Handouts One and Two for each group of four students
  • student copies of Handout Three: Let's Meet the Deck
  • teacher copy of Handout Four: Let's Meet the Deck Answers


  1. Day One

    Anticipatory Set:

    Ask for a student volunteer to stand in front of the class. Tell the learners that you are going to dress the student up for a special occasion (or you may dress yourself over your clothes). As you talk, help the student put on an oversize suit jacket, pants, and tie (for added effect, add other props, such as a briefcase and shoes). Ask the students to describe the attributes of the costume you are putting on the student (color, size, shape, and other descriptors of the jacket, tie, and pants). Lead the students to naming the costume a suit and telling where one might wear it. Ask the students if they know of any other suits that people wear. As they name other suits (bathing suit, firefighter suit, space suit, a suit of armor), discuss the attributes of those suits.

  2. On the display board, draw or display the shapes of a heart, a diamond, a club, and a spade, representing the four suits found in a deck of playing cards.

  3. Tell the learners that, like suits that represented the different things that people do, the playing cards in the deck also "wear" different suits. Suits are one attribute of playing cards. Every card has one of the suits on it. (Other attributes include color and number, but we will focus on suits today.)

  4. Point to the shapes on the display board and ask the learners to guess what these shapes are called. (More than likely they will call the club a three leaf clover or flower, and the spade a leaf or an upside down berry or shovel, etc.) Acknowledged their guesses and tell them that these shapes are called hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades. Have the learners call out the name of the suits as you point to them. Practice by having the learners call out the names of the suits as you randomly show cards from the deck.

  5. Give one card to each learner. Tell the learners to stand up and hold up their cards if you call the suit they are holding. As an active variation, give instructions, such as, “if you are holding a club, jump up and down,” or “if you have a diamond touch your nose,” etc. After a few rounds of this, the students may trade their cards for one of another suit and continue the activity.

  6. Tell them that those now holding diamonds and hearts should move to one side of the class, and all those holding clubs and spades should move to the other side of the classroom. Students should hold their cards in front of themselves with the front of the card, the suit, facing the students across the room. Ask them what they observe about the group on the other side of the room. (The hearts and diamonds are the red cards and the clubs and spades are the black cards.) Allow them time to look around and observe the suit colors. Collect the cards in the deck as students sit down.

  7. Arrange the learners into groups of four. Give each group one deck of playing cards, and tell the dealer to remove the Jokers from the deck and to wait for further instructions.

  8. Ask the learners to tell you how they plan to shuffle the cards as a way of reviewing yesterday’s lesson and preparing for a new game.

  9. Tell the groups that they are to shuffle their deck of cards and leave them face down until the rules for the game are read.Again, remind them how important rules are for a game and how important it is that everyone cooperates by following the rules.

  10. Tell the students that they will be sorting, or classifying, the deck of cards by attributes – something observable about the face of the card.In this game they will be sorting or categorizing by suits.

  11. Give one copy of Handout One: Suit Space to each group and ask them to put it in the center of the group.

  12. State the rules for Speed Sort:

    1. The object of the game is for each group to cooperate in classifying the cards by suit as quickly as possible. The teacher will time the class each time the game is played to determine if the groups are becoming more skilled at classifying the cards.
    2. Initially all the shuffled cards need to be face-down, meaning that the colors and shapes on the fronts of the card cannot be seen; only the backs of the cards should be visible.
    3. Each player in the group will have a turn to select a card, turn it face-up, and then place the card in the appropriate space (that corresponds with the suit) on the Suit Space in the center of the group.
    4. Players take turns in a clockwise direction, beginning with the dealer.
    5. Repeat turns, paying attention and moving quickly because this activity is timed.
  13. Note and announce the amount of time it takes for all the groups to successfully complete the sorting of all the cards in the deck.

  14. If appropriate, shuffle the cards again and continue to play additional games, encouraging the learners to better their time by staying attentive to their turns. Discuss how following the rules helps them enjoy the time together and improve their time.

  15. Allow time at the end of this lesson to have each group count the number of cards in each of the suits (each member of the group counts one suit), and write the number of heart cards, diamond cards, club cards, and spade cards on a copy of Handout Two: Card Count. When all have completed their counts, help the students discover that there are 13 heart cards, 13 diamond cards, 13 club cards, and 13 spade cards. For a challenge, ask someone to find out how many cards there are in all.

  16. Review all the terms introduced so far - rules, cooperate, deck of cards, clockwise, classify, sort, attribute, the back and face of a card, shuffle, Jokers, and suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades).

  17. Remind the students that the four suits are one attribute of playing cards. In the following activity the learners reflecton attributes they see in people. Help them get started by naming hair color, height, and clothing descriptions. Then ask the students to look at the person across the table from them (their partner) and reflect on that person's attributes. Players prepare to name two attributes of that person: one attribute may describe the person's appearance, and the other should describe their ability or character (likes animals, helpful during science, good at math, fun to play with, etc.). Tell the groups to take turns and move clockwise as they say two positive things about their partner.

  18. Day Two

    Teacher Note: This day's activity is appropriate for second grade. If you want to do it with younger students, read the questions as a whole class or with reading buddies from a higher grade level.

    Anticipatory Set

    Ask the students if they have ever participated in a scavenger hunt. Tell them that in a typical scavenger hunt, they have a list of items and teams compete to collect the most items on the list. Tell them that today, they are going to go on a scavenger hunt in a deck of cards.

  19. Give each student a copy of Handout Three: Let's Meet the Deck. Assign the students to groups and give each group a deck of playing cards. They will work in teams to answer as many questions as possible about a deck of cards.

  20. At then end of 20 minutes, they will meet back together as a whole group.

  21. Review the answers together. Use Handout Four: Let's Meet the Deck Answers. Have each group count how many answers they completed correctly.

  22. The group with the most correct answers is the winning team.


Teacher observation of student involvement in the activity and sharing.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate listening skills.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify why rules are important and how not all behaviors are addressed by rules.