When I was growing up, my best friend’s mom always carried a pack of cards in her purse. Anytime we were waiting around, she pulled those cards out to play a game, often teaching us new ones to challenge our thinking. I remember she even had an index card tucked in the deck with a list of game ideas! Cards are easy, screen free ways to interact with others, they distract from boredom, and often twist your brain and spark a few laughs. There are hundreds of card games for any age group to play. Here are a few I keep in my back pocket that every kid I know loves to play.
Crazy 8s (Recommended Ages: 4+) If there are two players, deal 7 cards each. Deal 5 cards each if 3-4 players. The remaining cards go in a stack face down in the middle. Turn the top card over. The player to the left of the dealer starts the game. Move clockwise from there. During a player's turn they can play cards face up that match the current card in either suit or rank. For example, if the current face up card is the 4 of diamonds, you may play either a 4 or a diamond. Eights are wild and can be played at any time. When a player plays an eight, they get to pick the suit. If the player can't match the top cards, then they draw cards from the deck until they get a match. Once the draw pile is empty, then players that don't have a match, they lose their turn. The first player to discard all their cards is the winner!
Go Fish (Recommended Ages: 3+) If there are two players, deal 7 cards each. Deal 5 cards each if 3-4 players. The remaining cards go in a stack face down in the middle. Choose a player to go first (to the left of the dealer, youngest, oldest...). When it is your turn, ask any player for a specific card rank. For example: "Marcy, do you have any 4s?" You must already hold at least one card of the rank you ask for. If the player you ask has any cards of the requested rank, she must give all of their cards of that rank to you. In the example, Marcy would have to give you all of her 4s. If you get one or more cards from the player you ask, you get another turn. It starts again and you may ask any player for any rank you already hold, including the same one you just asked for. If the person you ask has no relevant cards, they tell you to, "Go Fish." You then draw the top card from the draw pile. If you happen to draw a card of the rank asked for, show it to the other players and your turn continues. Otherwise, it is the next player's turn. You add the drawn card to your hand. The "next player" is the one who said "Go Fish." When you collect a set of four cards of the same rank, place the four cards face down in front of yourself. That is a "match". Go Fish continues until either someone has no cards left in their hand or the draw pile runs out. The winner has the most “matches”.
Casino (Recommended Ages: 7+) This is a 2 or 4 player game “fishing” style game. It is more complex than some of our other games, but really fun to play with kids who are learning multi-step strategy. Details of how to play this game can be found across the web, but I like to use the very clearly laid out rules from www.GameRules.com (@gamerulescom).