Count and Compare for Math Centers December 14 2010

I recently played Count and Compare for homework with my kindergartner. He had brought home the assignment and the directions for the game from his genius kindergarten teacher.

As we were playing, I realized how much fun this game would be in a math center for kindys (and up to second graders) who are practicing number recognition and value. They could also play in a small group with a teacher or with partners at their desks.

This game is a lot like the traditional card game known as"War," which will be easy for your students to learn and remember the directions. I've also included a more challenging version for greater differentiation based on the needs of your kids.

Count and Compare Directions

  • Photocopy sets of Count and Compare Cards. One set is good for a pair of students to play the game.
  • Once the cards are cut, they need to be mixed up and split between the two players. Take out the Wild Card for this version of the game.
  • Each player holds their pile of cards face down. Taking a card from the top, each player lays out a card and figures out which number is higher.
  • Children can use their fingers, a number chart, or manipulatives like these inchworms, unifix cubes, or counters to help relate the number with its value. Students can also draw small dots or hash marks on the card itself to help them recognize which number is worth more.
  • Whoever has the card with the higher number gets to keep both of them. The winner of the game is the one who ends up with the most cards.

More Challenging Count and Compare

This more challenging version of the game is essentially played the same way. However, each player lays down two cards per round instead of only one. The Wild Card can also be introduced in this version, with the teacher or players deciding what number the Wild Card will represent before beginning to play.

This reinforces the concept of number value and adds the skill of addition to the game. Pictured on the right, my son had 10 and 2 while I had 10 and 8. When we started the game, he was counting each number through to the total. By the end of our game, he was using vocabulary like "10 plus 2" and "equals."

Another advantage to this version is that students begin seeing patterns, which is also pictured here. My son started to see that if we both had a card with a 10 on it, they were of the same value and we only really needed to consider the other two cards.

These observations are pretty sophisticated and worth discussing with your students, along with any other observations they make during and after playing the game. Begin a "Count and Compare" chart, writing down their observations during a brief discussion.

Sending Count and Compare Home

I mentioned earlier that we played this for homework. The Count and Compare Cards can be photocopied and sent home along with a brief note explaining the rules of the game. Another advantage to this is that my son was able to explain the rules to me and teach me how to play. Sending Count and Compare home will encourage students and their parents to spend some quality time together.