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Card Games

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Diane Matzke from Cross Plain, Wisconsin submitted these good games for grades K-5.

Here are three games/ideas that we have found very useful with our elementary-aged students.

Go Fish for Fitness

Equipment: A deck of “Go Fish” playing cards

Background: While this is a fun warm-up activity that can be used for all grade levels, it is especially good for K-2 students. Select several students to “deal” the playing cards. These students put the cards face down on the gym floor. While this is being done, give the rest of the students the directions for the activity.

Directions: On your signal, the students move into the playing area to pick up a card. They look at the card and have to find the person who has the matching card. When a match is found, the students are given a task to do before they give the pair to the teacher. Some examples are:

  • Run one lap
  • Do ten half jacks or
  • Shake hands with three people

After giving the matching cards to the teacher, the students may pick up a new card to find a new match. This continues for several minutes.

Name Cards

Here”s a great way to quickly select students to be taggers or to divide the class into teams and other groups. Using index cards, write the name of each student on a card and laminate the card. (This method is similar to the numbered index cards mentioned by Mickey Coons in the November/December, 1998 issue of Great Activities.) For example, if I need four different groups and I have 29 students in the class, I would call out the names on the first 7 cards. This would be Group #1. The next 7 names are Group #2. The next 7 names are Group #3. The last 8 names are Group #4.

A Phase-In Approach: The first year I did this, I made laminated cards for all the students from kindergarten through third grade. Whenever we need to form groups or teams, I shuffle the cards and call out the students” names. The following year I made cards for new students and the kindergarten class. At the beginning of the school year, all I have to do is rearrange the name cards with their new class. When my original third grade students move on to middle school, I plan to write them a special message or good luck note on their card and present it to them the last day of school!

Salamander Tail Tag


  • Name Cards
  • Juggling scarves
  • Bucket
  • Stopwatch
  • Box of extra scarves

How to Play: We usually use this game with third grade and up. Each student puts a juggling scarf (or individual football flag) into their waistband. Two or three Name Cards are pulled to be the taggers. When the music starts, the taggers have 1 minute to grab as many “salamander tails” as they can and put the tails into the bucket.

When a “salamander” loses his tail, he can grow a new one by getting a tail from the extra tail box. Stop the game after 1 minute. Use the Name Cards to select new taggers for the next round.

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