Cards Anyone?

Well, I survived the first day of school!  So many things that I need to do tonight before I hit the sack, but I wanted to share my opening activity - no pictures, because it would have just been pictures of cards.   To get my kiddos in the room and randomly seated, I passed out playing cards at the door, but then it turned in to so much more:).  If you are looking for an opening activity for the first day of school, this might be it!

  • Yesterday before I went home, I carefully laid out 30 playing cards at every available seat or desk.  I was careful to group them by suit so it would be easier for the students to find.
  • Just to double check, I took another deck of cards and matched up what was on the desk.  It would have been awful to give a student a card that had no match!
  • As I greeted them at the door, I handed them a playing card and told them to find the matching card and take a seat.  I told them that other teachers didn't think it would work and that had taken their classes too long.  Then I said that they looked like they could handle it quickly and quietly.  I let them through in groups of 4 to 5.  They were seated with matching cards with 2 minutes.
Now, this is where I started improvising...
  • We did a little business (WBT 5 Rules, a quick school tour...), and my TA collected one card from each pair.
  • Then I had them work as a table group to add up the value of their cards.  Each table who did it quickly and made me happy, received a table point.
  • Next task was to find the mean value of the cards.
  • From there we did a little multiplying with them.  
  • Finally, I had them put them in order from least to greatest, and compare different pairs they made up at their table. 
It gave me a quick look at their Math and cooperative skills.  I couldn't be happier with how it worked out.  There are so many more things that I could have done, but as always, we were running short on time and long on first day business details.  Those cards are coming out again, real soon!

Any more ideas on how to use playing cards in quick Math lessons?  Wish me luck, tomorrow we SRI!!!


  1. I love that idea for getting them seated! I'm trying to think of how I could incorporate that with language arts.


    1. Maybe use the playing cards, but put parts of speech on one side and the words at the tables/desks? I have done something similar with vocabulary study games. Or parts of sentences, and they have to find a table or a partner that makes a complete sentence?

  2. Congratulations on your first day!

    Love the card idea!!!
    Hodges Herald

    1. Thank you, we got off to a great start! I really liked how the cards worked right into a math lesson. I have done it in the past with shapes, but this was better.

  3. I am trying to figure out how I can do this in Geography/Civics (7th grade). Any ideas? I thought of maybe handing out states with capitals at the seats?! Any ideas?

    Lil Bit Country In the Classroom

    1. I have these great cards that are called "Terracarta" cards. They have a different state on each card. They are beautiful! Where I got them is a mystery:) And Target almost always has those flashcards with the states on them in their $1 section. I love the idea of the states and capitals:). Make them work for their seat!

    2. Just checked Amazon! They have the Terracarta playing cards:).

  4. Awesome idea! I usually use colored notecards, but I think I'm going to add labels to them with ELA Vocabulary.....*wheels turning*....

    Surviving Sixth Grade

  5. That's a great idea! I don't teach Math so I am thinking about how I can use them in LA. I know I will have a group of 6th grade students who are very chatty and think school is for socializing ONLY. I may use the card idea for a seating chart and then make them have to come up with some writing idea from their cards. I don't know yet, still thinking on it. Thanks for the great idea!

    1. I like the idea of putting a writing prompt on the back of the cards!

  6. Hi Friend!
    Congrats on getting through the first day! I love the card idea and the quick assessment data it provided.
    I agree: Some parts of the first day fly by (I'm always overplanned) and some are sooooo slow. I have my kids start by assembling a jigsaw puzzle... It seems like it takes hours to get a few pieces put together!
    Sending you back-to-school good luck wishes...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  7. Hi Susan,

    A great resource that i've found for Middle Years card games is the "Boxcars and One-Eyed Jacks" books. They have a bunch and they are all card or dice games...super easy to do in a classroom!

    Have a great day!

    Apples, Owls, and Peppermint Mochas