Simple Card Games for Kids

Michele Meleen

Fun With Cards for Kids

Card games for kids are perfect for rainy day fun or any time your children need quiet, sit-down activities. Children's card games run the gamut from purely fun and silly to educational. Simple kids' card games are great for kids to play on their own, for classrooms, or for family night.

Old Maid Card Game

Old Maid is a classic game for two or more players ages four and older. The more players, the better. Younger kids may have trouble holding too many cards, so a card holder is recommended.

  1. Remove three queens from the deck for the entire game so you are left with one Old Maid. Deal out all the cards.
  2. Remove any matching pairs (same number or letter) from your hand.
  3. On a turn, hold your fanned hand out to the player on your left, faces toward you. Your opponent must take one card.
  4. The opponent then removes any new pair made using the card they chose.
  5. Play continues until one person is left with only a queen, or the Old Maid.

Go Fish Card Game

Kids as young as toddlers who can recognize matching symbols, or numbers and letters, can play this simple game for two or more players.

  1. Deal each player cards (7 cards for two or three players, 5 cards for more). The remaining cards are left face down in the middle of the playing area.
  2. Players take turns seeking out cards to complete a four-of-a-kind meld in their hand by asking "Do you have..." a specific number. Another variation is to seek matches instead of foursomes.
    1. If the opponent has any of that card, they must give them all to the person asking. The asking person gets to take another turn.
    2. If the opponent does not have any of the card, they say "Go Fish." and the player picks a card from the "pond," or pile.
  3. When a player has four-of-a-kind, they set them down. When all foursomes have been played, the game is over. The player with the most sets of four wins.

Quadruple War Card Game

War is an easy two-player card game kids of any age can play. It helps if the kids can recognize which card values are higher than each other.

  1. Deal out 26 cards in one face-down stack for each player.
  2. Each player draws his top card and lays it in the middle.
  3. The player with the highest value card gets to keep all cards.
  4. If there is a tie, the tied players go to "war."
    1. Each player places four cards, face-down, in a line. One more card is then turned face-up.
    2. That card is left face-up and determines the winner. Whoever has the highest card wins all the played cards.
  5. When a player runs out of cards, he is out of the game. The last player left wins the game.

Snap Card Game

Kids as young as age four can play this simple multi-player, winner-takes-all family card game that's about paying attention.

  1. Deal out all cards into a face-down pile for each player. It's okay if piles aren't equal.
  2. Each player takes a turn flipping over their top card to start a face-up pile next to their face-down pile.
    1. The first person to notice a flipped card matches a face-up card on any player's pile yells "Snap!" and wins both face-up piles containing the matching cards.
    2. If there's a "Snap!" tie, both piles go into a "Snap Pot" in the middle of the table.
    3. If a player notices a flipped card matches the top card on the "Snap Pot" they yell "Snap Pot!" and win that pile.
  3. If your face-down pile ever runs out, you flip your face-up pile over and use it.
  4. The player with all the cards at the end of the game wins.

Slapjack Card Game

Slapjack is great for larger groups of active kids! You can have up to 10 players.

  1. Divide the cards equally between the players. Everyone stacks his or her cards facedown.
  2. On a turn, one player at a time, going clockwise, takes the top card from his or her own stack and places it in the middle in a new stack.
    1. When a Jack is played, put your hand on it. The first player to "slap the Jack" gets to keep the entire stack.
  3. If a player runs out of cards, he may still slap jacks and win back cards, so this can be a long game.
  4. The winner is the player with all the cards. Or, set a timer and the winner is the one with the most cards when time is up.

Bingo Card Game

Kids of any age as young as about three can play this fun take on Bingo that uses two standard decks of playing cards. You need at least two players.

  1. One player will be the "Caller" and can't win the round.
  2. From Deck One, deal five cards face-up to each player. You don't need the rest of this deck.
  3. The "Caller" pulls one card from Deck Two and calls out the number and suit.
    1. If a player has this exact card, they flip it over so it is face-down.
  4. The first person to turn over all their cards and yell "Bingo!" wins.

Rummy Card Game

This game for two players or more features collecting runs and matched sets which are difficult concepts for kids under age seven to grasp. For the easiest version of the game, Aces are the highest card and ones are the lowest.

  1. Deal cards to each player (10 cards for two players, 7 cards for three or four, 6 cards for five or more.)
  2. Place the rest of the deck face-down in the center of the playing area and flip the top card over next to this pile.
  3. On a turn start by drawing either the top card on the pile or the top card in the face-up pile next to it.
  4. If you have a set (three or four of a kind) or a run (three or more numbers in sequential order), lay them down in front of you.
  5. Discard onto the face-up pile at the end of your turn.
  6. The first player to get rid of all their cards from their hand wins.

Scat/31 Card Game

Older kids ages six and up who are able to add up to 31 can play this game for two or more players. Aces are worth 11 points, face cards worth 10, and all other cards are worth their face value.

  1. Deal three cards face-down to each player.
  2. Deal three cards in the middle of the playing area face-up to create the "window."
  3. On a turn players can exchange one card from their hand with one card from the "window," but this new card must lay face-up in their hand now.
  4. When a player has 31 points or believes they have more points than any opponent in their hand, they knock on the table.
  5. Everyone gets one more turn after the knock. The player with the highest total card value in their hand wins the round.

Spoons Card Game

Spoons is a really fun, fast-paced popular card game for older kids ages eight and up that can last a long time. You need at least three players, but more is better. In addition to the deck of cards, you'll also need spoons (one fewer than your number of players).

  1. Arrange the spoons in a straight line or circle in the center of your playing area. Deal four cards to each player then the dealer keeps the rest of the pile.
  2. The dealer pulls the top card from the pile then removes any one card from their hand and passes it to their left.
  3. Each successive player picks up the card passed to them and passes one one. There are no turns, so game play is continuous.
  4. When a player gets four-of-a-kind, she grabs a spoon. Everyone else must then grab a spoon too.
  5. The last player who doesn't get a spoon gets one letter from the word "spoon". If a player spells the whole word after several rounds, she is out of the game. The last player in the game wins.

Pig Card Game

This group game for five or more players is perfect for family game night with kids as young as four. Since this is best played at a rapid pace, it's best for kids ages seven and up.

  1. Deal four cards to each player.
  2. Each player starts by passing a card from their hand to the left and picking up the card passed from their right.
  3. When a player has four-of-a-kind in their hand, they stop passing and put their finger on their nose.
  4. All others then put their fingers on their noses. The last person to put their finger on their nose is the Pig.

Ranter-Go-Round Card Game

Also called Cuckoo or Chase the Ace, this simple card game involves bluffing so it's best for kids ages seven and older who understand that concept. You can have any number of players with two being the minimum and you'll need candies, poker chips, or other counters.

  1. Before you begin, decide whether Aces are high or low and give each player three candies.
  2. Deal each player one card face-down.
  3. The first player decides if they want to keep their card (because they think it's higher than at least one other player's) or trade with the person on their left.
    1. If their opponent has the highest ranking card (either Ace or King), the opponent can flip their card over and refuse to trade.
  4. Everyone flips their card over and the player with the lowest-valued card has to put one of their candies in the center pot.
  5. When all your candies are gone, you are out of the game. The last player remaining wins all the candies.

Beggar My Neighbor

Similar to War, Beggar My Neighbor is a two-person game of chance for kids of any age.

  1. Deal out 26 cards in one face-down pile for each player.
  2. Player One flips his top card into a central pile. Player Two flips his top card onto Player One's card in the central pile.
    1. If any card put in the central pile is an Ace or court card, the opponent pays a penalty of cards.
    2. Ace pays four cards to the center, King pays three cards, Queen pays two cards, and Jack pays one card.
    3. The player who flipped the Ace or court card then takes the entire central pile and puts it on the bottom of their pile.
    4. If the last card payed by the penalized player is an Ace or court card, his opponent does not take the pile and has to pay.
  3. The winner of the central pile always lays down the next card. The player who ends up with all the cards from the deck is the winner.

Play or Pay Card Game

Older kids who can understand the basic concept of betting can play this three to eight player game. You'll also need candies or poker chips to play.

  1. Give each player a bunch of chips and deal out all the cards from the deck. Each person puts one chip in the central pot before each round.
  2. Player One puts any one card from their hand in the center of the playing area. There will only be four piles in this area, one for each suit.
  3. All other players in turn must build up this pile started by Player One using only the same suit in sequential order. For example, if he lays a four of hearts, the next card that can be played is a five of hearts.
  4. If a player can't play, he puts one chip in the pot. When this first pile gets back to the original number laid, a new pile in a different suit can be started.
  5. The first player to get rid of all his cards wins.

Transform Cards Into Fun

A standard deck of playing cards might not seem like an ideal toy or game for kids, but there are many game options to take these cards from standard to stupendous. When you're done trying these simple card games, try out math fact card games and free internet card games or make your own card game!

Michele Meleen
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Simple Card Games for Kids