Let's Play One More Time

K, 1, 2

The lesson teaches learners that games are most fun when the players know and follow the rules. The lesson introduces the learners to geographic locations of North, South, East, and West. They also use playing cards to learn about rank order and greater than and less than.  

PrintOne to two 30 minute class periods

The learner will:

  • use playing cards to identify number order.
  • compare numbers to 10 with the terms greater than and less than.
  • determine geographic location by North, South, East, and West.
  • play a card game by established rules.
  • a display board
  • one deck of playing cards for each group of four learners
  • four large signs, each printed with one directional word - North, South, East and West - and posted on the corresponding classroom walls
  • copy of Handout One:NSEW Guide Card for each table top
Teacher Preparation 

Copy and laminate copies of Handout One: NSEW Guide Card, one for each table of four. These cards will be used at each table throughout the rest of the unit. You may also make copies for the learners to bring home.


For additional math games using cards see also:


  1. Anticipatory Set: In large letters,write a K, Q, and J in a column on the display board. Hold up King, Queen and Jack playing cards and name them. Ask the students to match each card to one of the letters on the board and explain why they match. (The letter is the initial consonant of the name of the person on the card.) The students may or may not know that the J stands for jack. Add the remainder of the letters to the initial consonants on the display board so the students can read the words king, queen, and jack. Ask the students to tell you which of these three people would be considered the most powerful person in most fairly tales. (Although the rank of a king and a queen are pretty even in many fairy tales, historically the king was considered the most powerful person in the kingdom.) Tell them that in card games, king is most valuable of these face cards, then queen, then jack. Teacher Note: While this lesson may be more appropriate for 2nd graders, an early learners’ alternative is located at the end of this section.

  2. Have the learners sit in groups of four at tables or desks pushed together. Point out to the students the words North, South, East and West posted on the classroom walls. Tell them that these words represent the geographic directions found on a map. Hand out NSEW Guide Card (Handout One) to each group off our students. Ask the students to set the directional signs in the center of their table in alignment with signs in the room. Test their understanding by asking questions such as, "Raise your hand if you are in the north position." or "Point at the person in your group who is in the south position."

  3. Once in their groups, give each group one deck of playing cards and tell the dealer to set the Jokers aside and spread the cards out, face-up. Assign the students in the groups a “suit” of cards dependent on their seating orientation. For example, all students with their backs to the west are assigned hearts, the south position has clubs, the east position has diamonds, and north has spades. The students pick up from the pile of cards all cards that belong in their assigned suit. Ask them if they recall how many cards are in each suit (13). Have each student count their cards to verify that they all have 13 cards of one suit.

  4. Ask each student to lay out all their number cards (2-10) in a row in front of them, starting with the lowest number. (Some students will note that they do not have a one. Tell them to begin with two. Tell them they may help each other order the cards. When they are ready, recite the numbers in order as they point to the cards. Ask the students to observe the number of suit symbols pictured in the middle of each card, and help them discover that the number of symbols correlates to the numeral on the card. That is, the five of hearts has five hearts in the middle, a ten of spades has 10 spades in the middle. They may note that the suit symbol is in other places on the card as well.

  5. Then tell the learners to add the face cards (jack, queen, and king) to the row of ordered cards. Make sure they put them in order. They will discover they have one card left over – the Ace. Some learners may know the name of this card, but some will want to call it an A. Point out that instead of a number in the corner, this card has the letter A. Tell the learners that in most card games an Ace has a greater value than aking. In some games, the Ace may be used in place ofthe number one, but usually it has a value higher than king. Tell them to place the Ace to the right of the King in order in front of them.

  6. Have the learners “read” across their row of cards chorally, saying the number/name of each card from least to greatest.

  7. Ask the learners to push two cards, the 3 and the 10, up out of their row. Ask clarifying questions to compare the “rank” of each card, such as “Which card is greater?" (10) "Which card is less?" (3) Repeat this several times with two different cards. Discuss whether they give different types of answers when comparing number and face cards. (The face cards do not have a corresponding number of symbols in the center, so the children must remember the rank.)

  8. Next, you will introduce a game that reinforces the concept of greater than/less than. Make sure the students are familiar with the language by asking them questions and having them answer by giving a thumbs-up for greater than and a thumbs-down for less than. Sample questions: “Is a King greater than or less than a nine?” “Is a three greater than or less than a ten?” "Is an Ace greater than or less than a Jack?”

  9. Teacher Note: Teach the following game by setting up a demonstration group while the other students stand around and observe. Or, invite older students to assist each group of four while you teach the whole class.

  10. Game Rules for High Card:

    1. Place all cards, except the two jokers, into the card pile.
    2. The player sitting in the north position shuffles the cards by placing them face down and mixing them up.
    3. Round One: The dealer deals one card face-down to each player, including the dealer, in a clockwise direction. Each player turns over his or her card in order. The player with the card of greatest value wins the round and collects all the cards from the other group members.(If there is a tie for the top card, each of the players involved in the tie gets a second card. The player with a higher value card wins all of the cards for this round.) The winner sets the cards face-down next to himself/herself.
    4. Round Two: The dealer passes the deck to the player to his/her left (east position). This is the dealer for this round. The new dealer passes one card to each player as in Round One. Repeat the procedure in Round One and pass the deck again. Repeat until the cards in the deck are gone.
    5. When there are not enough cards for the dealer to give each player a new card, the game is over, and each player counts the total number of cards he/she has been able to collect. The player with the most cards is declared the winner of that game.
    6. After a complete game, the next dealer shuffles the deck to begin a new game of several rounds. Groups may keep track of the number of complete games each player wins. The score pad may be labeled with the players' north, south, east, and west directions rather than names.
  11. Reflect on the lesson by asking the learners to name some behaviors of students that helped them learn today. They may recall that other people were quiet, they followed the rules, they were kind, or someone helped them by repeating something they didn't understand. Ask the students whether following the rules makes playing more fun for everyone. Ask the students what it would look like if they practiced these behaviors at home and other places to make the "game of life" better for everyone. Encourage them to practice fair play, taking turns, and helping others and come back to tell the class about what they did.

  12. Early Learners Alternative:

  13. To teach the concept of card rank to early learners, arrange the class into groups of four. Once in their groups of four, give each group one deck of playing cards, telling the group to remove all the cards that have letters on them. If necessary, show them which cards have letters. Have the group place these lettered cards back into the card box.

  14. Tell them to work cooperatively to match up the numbered cards, placing the cards with the same number into piles. Then have the groups put the number cards in order by the numbers on the card (2 -10). Point out to the students that the more suit symbols in the center of the card, the higher the value; the higher the number, the higher the value. Ask them to tell you which number is larger/greater, a seven or a three? A six or a two?, etc.

  15. In their groups, have the learners take turns picking any two cards from the deck and telling the rest of the group which of the two has a greater value.

  16. Once it is determined that the learners have a grasp of rank with the numbered cards, conclude this lesson by introducing the face cards using the Anticipatory Set and the fourth bullet point, above.

  17. Allow time at the end of this lesson to review all the terms introduced so far, namely rules, cooperate, deck of cards, clockwise, attribute, classify, the back and face of a card, shuffle, and Jokers, King (K), Queen(Q), Jack (J), Ace(A). North, South, East and West.


Teacher observation of student involvement in the activity and sharing

Cross Curriculum 

Students practice fair play, taking turns, and helping others in games and in the game of life. The class brainstorms ways to do these things in their lives. Then they try some things out and come back to class and report what they did and how people responded. Discuss how being kind and fair helps ourselves and others.

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.