Do you have little children you have to entertain? Or, are you looking for something fun to play with adults, that’s easy to teach and learn? Today I’m sharing a list of card games for little kids that you can play with a regular deck of cards! Plus, a few of our favourite other card games too.
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After years with babies and toddlers… our kids are finally starting to enter the “little kids” age. While my love for the baby stage is strong, I also like that our kids can start doing some more “grown-up” things now. As of writing this, our kids are 6, 4, and 3 – and trust me, all three of them can play the majority of these games!
Yes, our 6-year-old can probably play more complicated games, but we’re not often without the other 2, so it’s mostly group games for us! Here are our favourite, easy-to-play card games for kids (in no particular order).
In Old Maid, you take out the Queen of Clubs and set it aside. Then shuffle and divide the cards evenly among all the players. You remove any matching coloured cards (ie: if you have two red 4s) and place them in front of you. Players then take turns grabbing one card from each player, and again, taking out any matches. Eventually, someone is left with the Old Maid (the Queen of Spades) and that person loses.
Even easier version: The hardest part of Old Maid is holding all the cards so you can see them. To make it easier, I usually remove half of the matches and alternate the colour. So I’ll keep both black aces, the two red 2s, then 2 black 3s, etc. We then use a Joker as the “Old Maid” and the kids call this game “Mean Joker”.
Our kids call this one “the nice joker”. Shuffle the cards, and place 7 cards face down in front of each player. The remaining cards are placed in the centre, with one card flipped over as a discard pile. Taking turns, you can either take a new card from the deck or draw from the discard pile. The point of the game is to flip the cards over in front of you, in the order from 1-7. So if you draw a 2, you put the card in the second position, then flip the card that was facedown. If it’s a 4 (or something else you are missing), you replace that one, and so on.
When you get a high card or a duplicate, you put it in the discard pile and the next player can choose a card to draw. Once all your table cards are flipped over, they are shuffled in the deck, and you get six cards facedown. The game continues until you are left with one card, and you find that one (ie: you go from 7 cards, to 6, to 5, 4, etc). We play with the Jokers as wild cards, so they can be used anywhere.
Easier version: to make this quicker, I usually remove a lot of the high cards as we play, so they don’t get shuffled back into the pile. Otherwise, there’s a lot of flipping and not moving cards around, and after 7 rounds, it could get tiring! You can also start with 5 cards facedown, ten, or whatever.
Honestly, this is not so much of a “game” for playing as it is with luck. But it teaches kids the difference of colours, and was probably the first thing we played with the kids. One person is the dealer and has the deck in their hands – players take turns guessing red or black, and the top card is turned over. If a red is flipped when they say red, then they keep the card, or it goes to the dealer. The winner is the person with the most cards in the end.
Alternate version: you can play odd/even as well, but that concept is harder to grasp for little ones.
Everyone’s favourite easy card game! Best for 2 people, but can be played with multiples. The cards are shuffled and dealt evenly to each player. The piles are placed facedown in front, then the top cards are flipped at the same time. The highest card wins and moves the cards in play to the bottom of their pile (or into a new pile that is then shuffled when they run out). If the flipped cards match, it’s a “war” and three cards are then played facedown in a row, and a 4th is flipped. The highest card from the second battle is the winner (or another war happens if they match again). The play continues until someone has won all the cards.
Alternate version: play Red/Black first, then start the game of War with the cards that you guessed right.
Match (or Memory)
I think most people associate Match/Memory with different cards, but it can totally be played with a regular deck of cards. Place all the cards facedown in rows and columns, and players take turns flipping two at a time to find matches. You can decide if you want to match just the numbers, or if they have to be matched colours and numbers. If you find a match, you get to go again. The winner is the person with the most matches in the end.
Alternate versions: 1) You can start with all the cards face up, and have people take turns removing the matches. This is easiest for little ones that don’t have their memory built up yet. 2) OR once a card is flipped, it doesn’t get flipped back down. 3) Another way to play is to combine it with Old Maid – have players find matches, but have Jokers hidden too. You can either lose a match if you find a Joker, or it can be a winning card.
At our house, we have a dedicated GoFish deck (with fish cards!) but you can play with regular cards too. Each player is dealt 5 cards, and the rest is either in a pile in the middle, or fanned out facedown. Players remove their matches and place them in front of them. Then, take turns asking people if they have a particular card, and if they do, they hand it over. Otherwise, they say “Go Fish” and you take a card from the centre. The game ends once someone has a pre-determined number of matches (like 3 or 5) OR runs out of cards in their hand.
Honestly, we haven’t gotten into Slap Jack as much, but it’s a simple game to play. The cards are shuffled and dealt evenly among the players, who keep them in a facedown pile in front. Players take turns flipping a card down in a middle pile. When a Jack comes up, the first one to slap the jack/pile gets all the cards underneath. The game continues until the original piles are done, and the player with the most cards wins.
Alternate version: You can continue playing with the winnings, just reshuffle them and place them facedown. OR you can also slap the pile if any matches come up (like a 3 played on top of a 3). We also play with the Jokers as the slapper cards (sometimes my kids have trouble distinguishing the Jacks, Queens and Kings).
Other Card Games For Little Kids
As I mentioned, these are all games that are great for little ones to play! If you have older kids, you can also try Speed, Crazy 8s, Spoons, Signs/Kent or more. I’m also a BIG Uno lover, but we tried it once with our kids during the Christmas break, and they weren’t all there yet. There are a couple of other card games they love (seriously, we play a card game almost every day):
Skip-Bo: I bought this on a whim once when I was shopping with the kids, and holy tamoly have we played this game! Honestly, I’ve played this before, and purchased it for my parents – but we just didn’t have our own deck until this summer. Players need to be the first to play their deck (we call them special cards) and you play cards in order of 1-12. There’s a deck to draw from (you always start with 5) and you have your own discard pile(s) that you add to at the end of each turn. Heck, you can also use the Skip-Bo cards in place of regular cards for any of the games I mentioned above too. (You can start with any size “special card pile” to start, so it can be a long or short game, depending on how much time you have).
Play Nine: This is the newest card game we added, and the kids are obsessed! It’s similar to the card game of Golf (which I vaguely remember playing as a child but don’t remember the rules). You want to have the lowest score, and finding (and lining up matches) gets zero points, whereas everything else is at face value. There are also special cards/plays to get negative points and trust me, all 3 of our kids (even the 3-year-old) know the basics of this game. With nine rounds total, it does get to be much for their attention, but we’ll usually play a couple of rounds at a time if it’s all of us.
Sequence: Technically this is like a board game/card game that does use regular cards, but it’s a bit different. There are two decks of cards, a board with 2 of each of the cards placed randomly, and coloured chips. Players can be individuals or in teams, and take turns playing one card from their hand per turn. You pick a card from your hand, then place a chip on the matching place on the board, and then draw a new card to end your turn. The first player/team to get 5 chips in a row (or 2 rows of 5) wins. The Jacks are wild cards and can either remove or add a chip.
I hope you get a chance to have some fun by playing these card games for little kids! You know, whether you have little kids playing or not, ha. Also, keep in mind that I wrote these rules/instructions from memory/how I play – but you can certainly look up the rules online if you need clarification.
Oh, and let me know if you have any suggestions for other card games too! I do know a few more card games, but they’re definitely more in the teen/adult range (for complexity, not subject ha) – I don’t see the kids picking up Euchre anytime soon :)
(PS: most of the photos were the kids playing 7-up)
Stock photography by Klim Musalimov.