Card Game of War with a Difference


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The card game War (known by other names, depending on your math program or where you grew up in the world) is a wonderful beginning math game for children. It is a foundational game for basic number concepts. This version of the original card game supports the Common Core State Standards of Counting and Cardinality—Comparing numbers, as well as Operations and Algebraic Thinking. 

To play War with a Difference, students will need the following:

  • One deck of cards, divided evenly between two players (these can be number cards, a regular deck of cards, or even dot cards, depending on the age and level of your students)
  • 50 counters, shared in one pile

As with the traditional game of War, students turn over the top card of their pile on each play. The player with the greater number wins as many counters as the difference between the two cards. Players keep their cards from each play. The game ends when the counters have run out. The student with the most counters wins the game.

This game can be expanded by having students write the number sentences for each play on a whiteboard or by using cards with higher numbers.



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