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.contents

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

16 comments
Dixie
Dixie

My kids love Sleeping Queens, also by Gamewright. My children are 8, 5 and 4.

Tracey
Tracey

Unikato - bought it two years ago and didn't like it. My 6yo pulled it out a few months back and now I just love it. Great thinking game! Look at diagramme on http://www.bgdf.com/node/3725 Here is a brief on it. http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/40964/unikato Basically you can make this game yourself. You just need 3 shapes, 3 colours, 3 sizes and 3 backgrounds and make combinations of all these. Thanks, Tracey

Bee Jax
Bee Jax

Clock Solitaire! Great intro to time-telling and card playing. I made a template on a piece of paper to make set-up easier for my four-year-old.

Lindsey
Lindsey

We love playing Dominoes with my 3 year old (has been playing since she was 2 1/2) and she loves it. We haven't figured out how to use the trains that came with it though. :-) We also like Exago & Memory is a favorite (with picture cards). My daughter loves problem solving and puzzles, so thanks for these ideas above. I just ordered a few that I think will be a good fit for us all!

Kristin
Kristin

We love Old Maid and Go Fish. And sometimes I'll just pull out the Ace through 10 cards, put them in a pile and have each of my 3 year olds pick one color or suit and put their cards in order or make matches. Thanks for all of these other great ideas!

annelysem
annelysem

We fell in love with UNO Moo as our intro to card games. It uses figurines instead of cards so the under four crowd can easily play. Everyone enjoys playing it, young an old. I love your ten minute each idea. I need to make it a priority in my family. Thanks for the idea!

Michael G
Michael G

Don't forget WAR (with a plain ol' deck of cards).

April
April

My mom taught my daughter Crazy Eights. She loves it. It is pretty much Uno with face cards but she loves it! It is her go to game.

Lynda Watson
Lynda Watson

We love Rat-A-Tat Cat by GameWright. Can be played by any child that knows their numbers up to 10 - aim is to get rid of your high scoring rat cards and replace them with low scoring cat cards. Player with the lowest scoring hand wins. Good memory training as well though as your cards stay face down on the table and you are only allowed to peep at a card to see what it is at the start or when you get a peep card. Very quick games. Also Forbidden Island for a family game. This is more like a half hour game, but is nice because it is a co-operative game instead of a competitive one. You all work together to rescue 4 treasures from an ancient island that is sinking into the sea. You either win as a team and get helicoptered off the island together with your treasures or all fail together as the island sinks before you get all the treasures. This style of game can be played by even young children as you are actively supposed to suggest moves to each other and help with strategy. Our 2 year old daughter has joined in this game, though she mostly gets bored and wanders off after 5 minutes or so. Our 5 year old has a good grasp of the rules though. We've also just started playing Strip Jack Naked, which is played with a normal pack of cards. Bit tedious for adults, but I remember loving it as a child. I struggle to get any one-to-one time with either of my kids as I work full time and when I'm at home they both desperately want my attention all the time. Would you mind me asking what your other children are doing while you are having special time with one of them? Do you have any suggestions for strategies to get that special time as I think it would help us too. Thanks very much.

Jill @ A Mom With A Lesson Plan
Jill @ A Mom With A Lesson Plan

Ohhh what a great list! Aquarius looks fun and unique. I'll have to check it out! Go Fish and Memory are two of my daughters favorite card games. We have been know to make our own cards using sight words, shapes, or whatever she's "into". :)

Janel
Janel

We love uno, too. Other good ones are phase 10 and skippo!

Faigie
Faigie

Stephen covey talks about those special times with your kids in his 7 habits of effective families but I remember how it seemed simpler to do than it really was when my kids were little.

Alissa Marquess
Alissa Marquess

Oh, I've seen that card game and wondered if it's any good - thanks for the recommendation.

Alissa Marquess
Alissa Marquess

Hooray for grandma time! :) Sounds like they're making some good memories.

Alissa Marquess
Alissa Marquess

Thanks so much for your game recommendations Lynda. I've seen that Ratatat one by Gamewright and wondered if it's fun - sounds like we'd like it. I'm working on some posts about one on one time when you have more than one kid, because its something I'm really working on right now. I see it making a big difference with my parenting, but it really is tricky sometimes with multiple children. I'll get in touch when I've got more published on the topic.

Lynda Watson
Lynda Watson

Thanks Alissa - I'll look forward to it.

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