The pack of playing cards is dealt out among the players in face-down stacks as equally as possible1. Players taking it in turns to remove a card from the top of their stack and place it face-up on a central pile. If two cards placed consecutively on the pile obey a rule2, the first player to shout ‘Snap!’ and place their hand on the top of the central pile takes the pile of cards and adds them to the bottom of their stack. The player who ends with all the cards is the winner.
Let the Ace represent one, Jack eleven, Queen twelve and King thirteen
2The 'rules' can be adapted to suit the mathematical concepts being learned, here are some examples:
Snap if the last two cards add up to fourteen;
Snap if the last two cards were prime numbers;
Snap if the last two cards were multiples of three;
You can try a similar activity which is online and interactive: Rounding Snap
1The time-honoured way of dividing a pack of cards 'roughly' in two but ensuring fairness is for one player to do the cut and the other person to choose which pile they will take.
If there are more than two players the method of cutting a cake could be adapted. The server slowly moves the knife along the cake, anyone can shout stop at any time and get the piece being cut off.
Do you have any wonderful ideas for using playing cards to help learn mathematics? Please share your ideas here.
Playing cards have been around since the ninth century. They were invented in China and spread across Europe in the fourteenth century. Though the designs on the cards have changed over the years the basic number properties have not.
Because they are so popular the manufacture of high quality cards is not expensive and makes them an ideal tool for learning mathematics.