Using Cards in the Classroom

If you have a deck of cards, you have a wonderful tool for organizing and grouping your classroom.

Organized Seating/Groupings

You can assign students a card (students keep it in their desk or tape it to the top of their desk) and use this for choosing a seating plan. I like to give girls either HEARTS or DIAMONDS and boys CLUBS or SPADES.  In fact, you can be even more selective and assign “easy” girls hearts and “easy” boys spades – by easy, I mean low behavioral issues.

This works well for seating in twos:

  • hearts (easy girls) and diamonds (girl)
  • hearts (easy girls)  and clubs (boy)
  • spades (easy boy) and diamonds (girl)
  • spades (easy boy) and clubs (boy)
  • but never clubs + clubs, diamonds + diamonds, or clubs + diamonds

Or in groups of fours, you can now let them pick their own foursomes by saying, “You must have 1 of each suit in your group”.

When behaviour is less of an issue, you can spin a wheel on your whiteboard to see which to suits get paired up for an activity, or which suit gets to go first for an activity.

Random Groupings

You can start your day off by picking a card. Use this card for:

  • order of lining up at the door (Ace to King)
  • presenting projects
  • use of the computer lab
  • exchanging home reading
  • etc…


There are tons of ways to use cards in math, but one quick game is for integers in the intermediate grades (7/8).  Students get in pairs, each person gets 10 cards.  Red cards are negative integers and black cards are positive integers. Students flip the cards over at the same time and either add or multiply the numbers together.

  • win = +1
  • tie = 0
  • loss = -1

When time runs out, students will calculate their sum using integers. For example, 7 wins and 3 losses: (+7) + (- 3) = (+4)

Daily Physical Activity (DPA)

There are many ways to use cards for DPA. One way is:

  1. Select an activity for each suit: Hearts = Jumping Jacks, Diamonds =skipping, Spades = lunges, Clubs = Side bends (you can switch up the activities each day).
  2. Students are in 4 groups (each corner of the room).One person from each group will take turns grabbing a card.  The group will do the activity of the card. For example, Jack of Hearts, the group would do 10 jumping jacks.
  3. The groups try to collect as many points as possible. The group that does the most exercises in allotted time frame, wins!
  4. BONUS:
    • 2 bonus points for a pair
    • 3 bonus points for triplets
    • 5 points for a flush or a straight.
    • 10 points for a full house
    • 20 points for a straight flush

One thought on “Using Cards in the Classroom

  1. Just discovered your blog and it’s great! This DPA activity with cards is very useful for switching things up a bit and developing a sense of community in their groups. Thanks!

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