Favorite Card Games for Young Kids

by Alissa Marquess on May 20, 2013

These card games offer the perfect quick connection activity with my kids.

One of my goals recently is to have a couple ten minute “Special Times” (one-on-one time) with each of my kids each day.  You might think ten minutes one-on-one is short and would happen every day naturally, but it doesn’t seem to happen without me making it a priority, and just that short time of concentrated attention is making a big difference for all of our happiness.  Having a few easy to pull out activities to suggest to the child I’m having special time with makes it easier to be sure this ten minute connection happens.

5 card games that are great for ten minute fun times with your kids (5)

During Special Time we do an activity together and card games have been a real hit for this time. We also play card games together as a family, but they work especially well as a little connection activity during one on one time. Here are five of our favorites.  The links below are Amazon affiliate links:


Spot It  is a quick matching game – each card has one item in common with each other card, but ONLY one thing.  It takes quick eyes to spot the matching items.  The game comes with five different ways to play and when you play one on one with your child you can alter the rules as needed to make it enjoyable for them to play.

My only issue with playing this game with younger kids is that the version we have (pictured above) has rather odd images.  You can learn or make up the names of them (weird hand shape! question mark! target!), but if I could go back I would buy the version they have out now called Spot It Jr.! Animals which has cute pictures of animals – much easier to recognize than the pictures on the original Spot It cards.

Uno – This classic is such a great ten minute game.  Kids can start learning it very young and you can play simply at first, just matching colors or learning their numbers.  By the time they’re five years old or so, they can play on their own against you, and there’s just enough luck involved that they can win occasionally,even when you play at your best against them.


Aquarius is a little like dominoes with cards.  It requires no reading, features colorful cards and quirky rules for play.  You might have to help younger kids understand what to goal is, but even if they don’t quite get it, they have fun linking up the cards.

Story cards – We use story cards as story starters, as inspiration for mini books or sometimes to sort into piles for which activity would go with which season.  We have a set of cards I made from free printable on the Montessori for Everyone Site.  Scroll down to “Season Matching Cards” and you’ll find a whole set of pictures for each season that you can print and laminate.  Above I’ve linked to cards with a similar idea: eeBoo Tell Me a Story – Mystery in the Forest, which includes instructions for a variety of imaginative games.

Finally, we can’t forget games played with regular ol’ playing cards.  Get yourself a copy of Hoyle’s Rules of Games and try a few card games.

  • Kings on the Corner – was a favorite in my husband’s family when he was growing up.
  • Gin Rummy – This is what my grandma taught us when we’d come to visit, might be harder with young kids.
  • Go Fish – There is something delightful about telling your opponent, “Nope, go fish!”

Top 5 Favorite Card Games for Young kids

Those are a few of our favorite card games to play with our 5 and 8 year old (the 2 year old also gleefully “plays” when she’s on someone’s team ;)).  What else can you recommend?  I love having these easy to games for connection time and would be happy to add more.

3-5 playful preschoolHave fun!


More ideas for simple play for preschoolers can be found in my collaborative ebook: Three to Five: Playful Preschool

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

{ 4 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: