Nothing beats a game of cards in my book for a cheap and fun activity with your kids. All you’ll need is a deck of cards and to prepare yourself for a lot of laughter. Here are 12 more fun card games loved by kids:
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#1. Crazy 8s or Switch
This fun card game needs 2 or more players and uses a standard card deck. The goal is to get rid of your cards.
How to play: Divide out the deck among the players, if 2 players each one gets 7 cards, if more than 2 players each person gets 5 cards. The undealt stock is placed face down on the table, and the top card of the stock is turned face up and placed beside the stock to start the discard pile.
Then one at a time, the players must either play a legal card face up on top of the discard pile, or draw a card from the undealt stock. The following plays are legal:
If the top card of the discard pile is not an eight, you may play any card which matches the rank or suit of the previous card (for example if the top card was the king of hearts you could play any king or any heart).
An eight may be played on any card, and the player of the eight must nominate a suit. The suit can stay the same or it can change.
If an eight is on top of the pile, you must play either another eight or any card of the suit nominated by the person who played the eight.
The first player who gets rid of all their cards wins, and the other players score penalty points according to the cards they have left in their hands – 50 for an eight, 10 for a picture, and spot cards at face value (one point for an ace, two for a two and so on).
If the stock pile is exhausted, the standard rule according to most books is that play continues without drawing. A player who cannot or does not wish to play just passes. If all pass, the game is blocked. Play stops and everyone scores for the cards remaining in their hands.
However, a variation played by many groups is that when the stock pile is exhausted, the played cards, except for the last card, are shuffled and stacked face down to make a new stock.
Something similar to Snap but a little bit different. Divide your deck of 52 cards into face-down stacks as equally as possible between all players.
One player removes the top card of his stack and places it face-up on the playing surface within reach of all players. The players take turns doing this in a clockwise manner until a Jack is placed on the pile.
At this point, any and all players may attempt to slap the pile with the hand they used to place the card and shout “Slapjack!”. The person who covers the stack with his hand first takes the pile, shuffles it, and adds it to the bottom of his stack. If they forget to say “Slapjack” then he or she does not get the pile.
If another player puts their card over the Jack before it is slapped, the Jack and the cards underneath can’t be taken by a player until the next Jack is revealed. When a player has run out of cards, he has one more chance to slap a jack and get back in the game, but if he fails, he is out.
Gameplay continues with hands of this sort until one player has acquired all of the cards.
Additionally, if the player covers the pile and says “Slapjack”, and the card is not a jack, then the other players get to divide the pile evenly among themselves.
#3. Beggar My Neighbour
Beggar My Neighbour is a particular favourite in our house. Use a standard 52 card deck and you’ll need 2-4 players.
Shuffle the cards and deal them all out to the 2 players. Players keep their cards in front of them cards down. The player to the left of the dealer starts the game by turning up his card and playing it into the middle.
If the card has a rank of 2 to 10, play passes to the next player. When a face card or an Ace (court cards) is turned up, the next player has to pay a number of cards:
- Jack – the next player has to turn over 1 card
- Queen – the next player has to turn over 2 cards one at a time
- King – the next player has to turn over 3 cards one at a time
- Ace – the next player has to turn over 4 cards one at a time.
If all the cards being “paid” are between 2 and 10, the player who played the court card gets to keep them. However, if one of the cards being paid is a court card, the player paying stops immediately and the next player has to pay.
This continues until one player wins the pile in the middle, that player puts his winning cards at the bottom of his pile face down.
If you run out of cards, you are out and the first player to get all of the cards is the winner. (NB it can take a while so you can agree that the players with the most cards at the end of a pre-agreed time is the winner)
#4. Knockout Whist
I used to love this game as a child! You will need at least 2 players, and a 52-card pack is used, with four suits ranking from high to low A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2.
The goal of the game is to be the surviving player.
How to Play: A player is selected to deal, and deals seven cards each, clockwise. The uppermost of the undealt cards is turned face upwards to indicate the trump suit.
The player on dealer’s left leads to the first trick. Players must follow suit if they can, otherwise they may play any card. Each trick is won by the highest trump in it; otherwise by the highest card of the suit led. The winner of a trick leads to the next trick.
After the first hand, a second hand is dealt, by the next player in order around the table, with only six cards each. The game continues like this, with one fewer card per player on each hand, until the final hand consists of one card each.
The winner of most tricks on a hand chooses the trump suit on the next hand. If there is a tie for who took most tricks, the players involved in the tie cut cards for the right to choose trumps.
A player who takes no tricks at all in a hand is knocked out, is dealt no more cards, and takes no further part in the game.
There is one exception to the rule about being knocked out: the first player during the game who takes no tricks on a hand is not knocked out immediately but is awarded the “dog’s life”. On the following hand, she is dealt just one card, and may decide on which trick to play it.
In the course of the play, a player “on a dog’s life” may, when it is her turn to play, either play her card or knock on the table to indicate that she wishes to keep it for a later trick. If she is the player on the dealer’s left, she is not compelled to lead her card to the first trick; she may either do so, or knock, allowing the next player to lead.
If two or more players take no tricks on the same deal, no one having previously used the dog’s life, these players get one dog’s life each. Apart from this case, there is only one dog’s life available during the game. Players who take no tricks in later deals are eliminated immediately.
If a player on a dog’s life manages to take a trick with her card, the player on her left leads to the next trick, and the dog’s life player is dealt a normal hand on the next deal, and treated like the other surviving players. If the dog’s life player doesn’t manage to win a trick, she is knocked out of the game, like anyone else who takes no trick.
The game is won by the winner of the one trick on the final hand. Or if all but one of the players are knocked out before this, the surviving player is the winner.
A fast hilarious game! You’ll need
- a standard deck of cards (no Jokers)
- spoons, one fewer than there are players, for example, if you’re playing with 5 people, use 4 spoons.
- 3 to 13 players
The winner is the last player remaining. Arrange the spoons in a small circle in the center of the table and deal four cards to each player. Each player tries to make four of a kind.
The dealer takes a card off the top of the deck to have five cards in his hand, removes one and passes it facedown to the left. Each player discards to the person on his left at the same time. The last player places his discard into a trash pile.
Cards are picked up and passed quickly around the table.
The first person to have 4 of a kind (e.g. all 4 threes or all 4 Jacks) has to pick up a spoon. Once the player with four of a kind takes a spoon, anyone can take a spoon. The player left without a spoon gets a letter. If at any time the draw cards run out, pause to reshuffle the trash pile and keep going.
Players move closer to elimination each time they don’t get a spoon and take the next letter in the word S-P-O-O-N. Once they reach N, they are out.
Remove a spoon every time you remove a player from the game. So if the first round had 6 players and 5 spoons, the second round would consist of 5 players and 4 spoons. Continue playing until you’re left with a single person, who is the winner.
You will need 1 or more players and a standard deck of cards. The goal is to get the most pairs.
How to Play: Any (even) number of pairs can be spread on the table or floor in straight rows face-down. The object is to turn over pairs by remembering where one of them was the last time it was seen. Two cards are turned over on each turn. If they match, they come off the board. If they do not, both are turned back over in their original places.
The game is won by the player with the most pairs when all the cards are removed and paired. This can be played with as few as ten cards or as many as all 52, depending upon the age and skill level of the child.