These activities and games require minimal resources and are extremely fun and easy to play. The games can be used at the start, middle or end of a lesson. The students will often learn more and be more engaged due to the fun and competitive nature of these literacy activities.

As the name states I feel these education breaks work best at the start of the lesson. The reason for this is that if students are engaged through an educational activity, they are more likely to take this enthusiasm and energy into the class topic you are working on. Students enjoy a challenge and that’s exactly what these activities are designed to do. The five deck of card activities will challenge, engage and motivate students in a fun and support way. Give them a try and take note of the amazing results they will have with class moral and engagement of your students. As always if you would like these literacy breaks as a PDF please email me at

You’re Out Equipment: A deck of cards and 15 markers per student Description: You’re Out is a two-player game that requires a deck of cards with all picture cards removed. Twenty cards are dealt to each student face down. Both students turn over their top card and find the difference between the two numbers. The student with the lower number pays the difference in markers to the other student. The game ends when all cards have been played or when one student has all the markers. Play continues until one student is out of markers and the winner announces, “You’re out.”


Go Fish Equipment: A deck of cards Description: Use a standard deck of cards with tens and picture cards removed. Aces are worth one. Deal five cards to each student, take out one card and set it aside without looking at it. If a student has any two cards that add to 10 (eg: 3 + 7), the student lays the pair on the table face up. Once all students have laid down all their ‘10’ pairs, the first student asks any other student for a card that would complete a ‘10’ pair in their hand. If the other student has the requested card, they must hand it over. The first student may continue asking for cards from the same student or anyone else. If the student doesn’t have the requested card, they say, “Go fish.” This student then takes the top card from the stack of undealt cards. If a student runs out of cards, they pick up a new one at the beginning of a new turn and continue playing. When all the cards are paired, there will be one card without a pair (the one removed from the deck at the beginning of the game). The student with this card is the winner.


Where Is Ten? Equipment: Deck of cards Description: Students play this game in pairs and try to make a ten by turning over combinations of cards that total ten. Remove all picture cards, but keep aces. Aces are worth one. Shuffle the cards and place four rows of five cards face down between two students. Taking turns, students turn over two cards. If the sum is ten, the student takes the cards and plays again. If the sum is less than ten, the student takes a third card. If the sum is greater than ten, the cards are replaced face down and that student’s turn is over. The game is over when no more tens can be made. The student with the most tens wins.


Salute Equipment: Deck of cards per group Description: Students play this game in groups of threes or fours. The teacher or the students can determine whether it’s going to involve addition or multiplication. Each group of
three needs a deck of cards with 10s, Js, Qs and Ks removed. One student is the
judge; students are to rotate the judge duty after each game. For an addition game, the judge gives each student a card that is face down. When the judge says “Salute!” each student, without looking at their card, places it to their forehead so the judge and the other player can see it. The judge then announces the sum of the two numbers on the cards. The first student to correctly announce their own number wins the two cards. The game winner is the one with the most cards at the end. An example of this is, if student A sees that student B has a 7 and the judge announces the sum as 13, student A knows that their card is a 6 and says so.


Magic Twenty-Five Equipment: Deck of cards with picture cards removed Description: Magic Twenty-Five is played by two or more students at a time. Each group will need a deck of cards, ace to nine, with the aces being worth one. To start the game, deal out all the cards – an equal number to each student. The cards are left face down in a pile in front of each student. The first student turns over a card and places it face up in the centre of the play area. The next student turns over a card, adds it to the card already played, says the sum out loud and places the card on top of the previously played card. The next student turns over a card and adds the card to the sum of the first two cards. Play continues in this way until one student has a card that, when added, will give a sum greater than 25. When that happens, the student must subtract rather than add. Play continues until someone gets a sum of exactly 25. The student who gets a sum of exactly 25 wins that round and goes first in the next round.