Pyramid: Throwback Math Game

This game, in addition to cribbage (thanks English heritage!), were my constant companions as a child. These games also provided an incredibly strong foundation for math facts. I didn’t recognize the math benefits as a kid, but now I realize just how greatly games boosted my simple addition skills, and try to employ them in my own children’s lives as much as possible. I loved pyramid because it was a single person game, but not boring like solitaire. Seriously. I cannot comprehend how people enjoy solitaire forever.

You’ll need a standard deck of cards for pyramid. The object of the game is to remove cards in the pyramid by “making 13”. You make 13 by removing two cards at a time which, added together, equal 13. Set up your cards like this. One card is dealt face up at the top of the playing area, then two cards beneath and partially covering it, then three beneath them, and so on completing with a row of seven cards for a total of 28 cards dealt. The remaining cards are placed to the side face down.

Pyramid: Throwback Math Game

Play begins by matching two cards to equal 13. Like the 5 and 8 on my bottom row.

Pyramid: Throwback Math Game
Since you can only match cards that aren’t covered by another card, I couldn’t match the queen and ace until I’d removed the 5 and 8. Now that the first pair is gone, the only thing covering the ace is the queen it goes with, so I could match those second.

Pyramid: Throwback Math Game
You can also remove any uncovered kings because those equal 13 all by themselves.

Pyramid: Throwback Math Game
Play continues until you have nothing you can match. That’s where your cards on the side come in. Flip one at a time face up to try to match with the remaining cards in your pyramid. For an extra challenge, flip three at a time, but since I’m using this as a math game, I want as many opportunities to make matches as possible. The goal is to clear the entire pyramid. Any cards left in the pyramid count as points against you. For example, if I had my 4, 6, and ace (top two rows of my pyramid) remaining, my score would be 11.


For play with younger kids, remove all the face cards (except aces) and play with the goal number of 10. This is a wonderful way to really cement those all important sum of ten facts.

Pyramid: Throwback Math Game
You can play competing games with as many kids as you have decks of cards for. My son loves trying to beat me. No. We aren’t Canadian. Brought those cards back from a trip with my sisters to our neighbor up north. My munchkins both LOVE playing games with their maple leaf cards. Do you have any favorite math games with playing cards? Feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments! I’m always looking for new games to play!

Pyramid: Throwback Math Game

Barn Animals at the Dinner Table

Cup board. *C-U-P-B-O-A-R-D* I will never look at the wall of a kitchen without hearing my father’s voice reciting “cup — board — cup — board”. It was tradition in our home to practice spelling words at the dinner table. As a homeschooling family, once the official word list was exhausted, my dad would select whatever term he felt had the best chance of stumping us. Cupboard was one of his more successful offerings. Continue reading

ZAP! Review Game

My ZAP! board has been lurking in my classroom closet most of our CC year and this week it makes its grand debut in my Masters/Journeymen class of 3rd-5th graders. This game holds the edge-of-your-seat suspense of not knowing whether you’ll be rewarded or punished each turn. You may inflict the agony of losing points on the opposing team, or (GASP!) lose your points instead! Who knows? The uncertainty is thrilling!

Zap! Review Game - Dissonant Symphony
Continue reading

Card Countdown Math Game

In my ever continuing mission to make math practice enjoyable for my kids (or at least not torturous), I put together this little game based off one I saw in a Scholastic card game math book. You’ll need a deck of cards (jokers and faces removed) and printed copy of the game board for each person playing.

This Card Countdown Game provides practice subtracting in a fun and (if you want) competitive/speedy manner. The goal is to subtract down from 100 using a deck of cards to determine the next number you’ll be taking away from your previous total. Printable game boards and instructions at the bottom of this post, the image below is just so you can see what I’m talking about.

Card Countdown Game Board
My daughter and I played a few rounds today as some additional math practice, and had a grand old time. Way more fun than flashcards and still provided the opportunity for speedy mental math. Also, when everyone gets to zero, you swap boards and “correct” the work by adding up from the bottom. I don’t know about you, but I love anything that shows my kids the correlation between addition/subtraction and checking your work by doing the opposite function.

I slipped the game boards into a sheet protector, and used dry erase markers to keep track, but you can just print and pencil if that floats your boat. Enjoy! Happy Math-ing!

Print Card Countdown Game Board and Instructions


Forehead Math Master Game

Do you have kids who stress out and hate pressure? I sure do. My husband and I both LOVED flashcards as kids. My mom would drill us at home constantly & I remember enjoying every second of playing round-the-world in elementary school. Maybe because I’m competitive, love a challenge, being on “stage”, and have always been quick at math facts. Hmmm. Now that I think about it, that game probably wasn’t very fun for the majority of the class. But I digress. My children loathe flashcards. It is their absolute least favorite thing to do. So what’s a math drilling momma to do? Figure out a game that gets in the same practice, without the “pressure”. Clearly we need some character lessons on what real struggles and pressure look like, but sometimes, I just want to get the stinking math in any way I can. Enter Forehead Math Master. Continue reading

Rockets Review Game

My son played this review game with his tutor during our CC community day last year and loved it. It seems to have disappeared from CC Connected, so I attempted to recreate one for our own use. You can utilize it too…if you promise not to laugh at the slightly fuzzy around the edges version I created. My son thinks it’s great – that’s good enough for me. Continue reading

SNAKE Math Game

Last week, I had the opportunity to observe an Essentials class at my CC Community. Even if the next level of classical education is a few years away for your family, I’d highly encourage anyone with a Foundations child to take a looksie at an Essentials class. It broadened my view of this whole classical journey, and renewed my excitement for the process. Seeing English and Math memory work come to life in real application was a great motivator to keep plugging along with all those songs about gerunds and verb conjugations. Bonus, I saw math games in action that I immediately stole, and have been using at home ever since. Including this fun game, called SNAKE.


You can play this as a multiplication or addition game. We learn skip counting in our Classical Conversations memory work, so my 6-year-old can rattle off multiplication as fast (maybe even faster) than his addition facts. We play both multiplication and addition to reinforce both as a good math foundation. Continue reading